Righteousness, peace the reward of opening up to God

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 20 (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37)

What did the righteous and upright man do to deserve persecution, torture and death? Precisely that — he was upright and righteous. Those who lie in wait for him secretly desire what he has: inner peace, integrity and a close relationship with God. His goodness makes them squirm and feel uncomfortable. They feel the sting of what they could and should be and the reality of what they are. They could have all of those things if they would walk the same path that he does, but then they would have to let go of their own selfish ways.

Faith must come from within

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 13 (Isaiah 50:5-9; Psalm 116; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35)

The image of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah stands in stark contrast to the ideal images of heroes in our own culture. For so many the perfect hero is one who responds to rejection, persecution or personal attack with a dazzling display of power and violence. Contemporary films and TV programs hammer home the measure of a hero: body counts and explosions.

Through the cross, divine love penetrates our suffering

It was a beautiful, comfortable hotel, but it couldn’t protect us from reality. Before dawn, we heard hostile voices from the adjacent room. A woman and man were arguing. Later, I went out to the elevator area to get a newspaper. Down the hall rushed a weeping woman with a suitcase; she waited for the elevator, sobbing, then exclaimed, “My sunglasses,” and went back down the hallway. Loud, persistent knocking and cries of “I just want to get my sunglasses” were followed by her hurried return to the elevator amidst a renewed storm of sobs. The doors opened and she was gone. It all took a couple of minutes.

God will show us the way

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 6 (Isaiah 35:4-7; Psalm 146; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37)

To those who have been uprooted and driven from their homes the world seems to have ended. In the past century more people were displaced than at any other time in history. That century also gave birth to wars, genocides and persecutions on an unprecedented scale. What words of comfort can we possibly have for the victims? What can we do to ease their inner suffering?

Walking in God's way makes us partners with Him

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 30 (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27)

Law and rule books are usually not our favourite reading and it is hard to think of them as something exciting or life-giving. And yet Deuteronomy is often quoted or alluded to in the New Testament and is even on the lips of Jesus as He resists the temptations of the devil in the wilderness. It is the core of the “great commandment” of love found in Mark 12. Fashioned in the seventh century B.C. during a time of reform and renewal, the book sought to bring the people into a sense of a partnership or relationship with God.

Make the Lord your choice

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 23 (Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:32-5:2, 21-32; John 6:53, 60-69)

At some point everyone makes a fundamental decision that colours the quality and value of their entire life. They decide whom or what they will serve. We might protest that we are independent and serve no one, but in fact we are all caught in a web of social, personal and economic relationships that demand various degrees of commitment.

Jesus lifts us above the ordinary

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 16 (Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58)

When we hear the word “banquet” it often triggers thoughts of rubber chicken and tedious speeches. Not so in the Bible: both Testaments employ the banquet metaphor to describe an invited encounter with a gracious God.

Eternal life comes with being open to God

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 9 (1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51)

Few would argue that life is easy. Each life brings its share of hardships, pain and disappointments, as well as blessings and joys. Even the lives of those who “have it all” are often visited by suffering and sorrow.

Avoiding the detour

{mosimage}How can I help? A question that lurks everywhere, ubiquitous with suffering.

Emerging into adulthood, I discovered the world is tilted: a few at the rich end, a multitude at the poor end. More shocking: everyone knew, and still it didn’t change. Didn’t people want to help? Or were they unable?

Recently, a 16-year-old let go his fury. He’d been raging a long time, repeated arrests, failure in school and nothing seemed better; childhood traumas had erected mountains he couldn’t scale. Family and professionals had seemingly tried and failed. Why couldn’t love help?

'Believe in Him whom He has sent'

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 2 (Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15, 31; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35)

People often idealize the past and forget the painful struggles and difficulties that they experienced. Previous jobs or living conditions become the source of nostalgia and wistful longing when we face the difficulties and struggles of the present. In the years following the momentous changes of 1989, many cast wistful eyes back to the period of communist rule. Things were “better” economically and there was “law and order.” The terror and lack of freedom were forgotten.

God assures us there is more than enough for all

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 26 (2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15)

Many have attempted to separate the Old and the New Testament and even to build a barrier between them. But both testaments speak to each other for they both witness to the action of the same loving God. Each of the testaments is unique, as is each individual book within them. And Christians can in no way expropriate the Old Testament for themselves and claim to be its only legitimate interpreters.