Give way to God's sovereignty

Christ the King (Year B) Nov. 22 (Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33-37)

Dreams and visions are the food of oppressed and desperate peoples. The Book of Daniel was written during a period of great distress and persecution. The Jewish culture and religion were at stake, and many minds struggled with the question of who ruled the world, the God of Israel or the many divinized tyrants of the surrounding nations.

Sanctification, perfection come through Christ

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 15 (Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32)

 

Cosmic battles and rescuing heroes are usually the stuff of action movies and video games. But in the ancient world it was also the fervent hope and expectation of a brutally oppressed people.

The Jews of the second century BC were struggling with an oppressor bent on destroying the Jewish religion and culture. Antiochus Epiphanes was willing to use any method — however bloody and cruel — to achieve his goal.

We must look out for each other

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 8 (1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44)

The poor widow of Zarephath probably didn’t know quite what to make of Elijah’s request. She was at the end of her tether — almost nothing to eat and drink and the end loomed all too near. Not only that, she was not even an Israelite nor was she a worshipper of Israel’s God. But she was a humble person with a good heart — the very definition of one who is right with God.

Time: enemy or friend?

Last week, my aunt was taken to emergency and we heard she might not have many days. How much time, no one knew. My mother and I felt we must take the time to drive up next day and see her. We arranged our time accordingly.

Making good time, we arrived in early afternoon. We bought parking time and searched the hospital; she was still in emergency, a volunteer informed us, but time had passed and she may have been moved. The person who knew was on her time off.

The seal of God is love

All Saints (Year B) Nov. 1 (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12)

The Book of Revelation can be a confusing and dangerous book — especially in the wrong hands and with a distorted understanding of its contents. But when it is used with its original intent it can speak directly to the heart and imagination.

God stands for new life

{mosimage}30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 25 (Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

Sometimes one is given the gift of being able to see the far horizon beyond the chaos and negativity of the present. Jeremiah’s entire life had been dedicated to the thankless task of trying to rouse his own people to spiritual and moral renewal. His ministry involved preaching the unwelcome truth: all was not well with the nation and unless there was a radical change disaster was on its way.

Jesus did not waver in His suffering

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 18 (Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 33; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)

Suffering — is it good or bad? We are appalled by the overwhelming amount of suffering in the world and we want to alleviate this suffering. At the same time, we speak of suffering in terms of a positive force with a redemptive value. Much depends on who is suffering and why.

We can experience the freedom of God's children

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 11 (Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

Intelligence and wisdom are not the same — one can be a very educated and intelligent fool. In some of the most beautiful poetic prose in the Old Testament, the author of Wisdom paints a picture of something more valuable than power, fame, wealth or health. The marketers would probably love to get their hands on whatever it is — the ultimate luxury item. Unfortunately for them but fortunately for us it is not for sale and cannot be successfully counterfeited — no knockoffs! 

Of divinity and cocktail parties

Questions of faith come up in the most un-churchly ways and places. You might be at a cocktail party making small talk, or in a bus waiting for your stop, and hear profound spiritual questions slipping in and out amidst the surrounding dialogue. As a teacher of mine liked to say, God is not really hard to find — “He’s everywhere.”

In my practice as a marriage and family therapist, faith questions surface unsought, in their own time and way. When given the time and space, people are generally eager to talk about them. Indeed, we suffer from carrying such
questions alone, often without the resources to help us probe and learn from them. But the questions are alive and well in real life.

In suffering, struggle, Jesus was perfected

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 4 (Genesis 2:7, 8, 18-24; Psalm 128; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16)

There are two different versions of creation in Genesis. This description of creation — the second — is expressed in a far more human and homey manner than the first. God appears more as an artisan in His workshop than the cosmic force in the first chapter who creates with the power of His word.

We can all belong to Christ

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 27 (Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

Spiritual power is not to be hoarded but shared. Unfortunately, possessiveness and the desire to have power over others neutralize so much of the work that God desires to do on our behalf.