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.

            A joyful, godly life should be our gratitude to God

            Baptism of the Lord (Year C) Jan. 10 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 104; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)

            It is difficult to read this passage from Isaiah without hearing the strains of Handel’s Messiah. These beautiful verses from Isaiah’s “book of comfort” fell on welcome ears — those of the exiles in Babylon. The suffering is over and done with; all of the negativity is in the past. No “blood and thunder” from God here, only tender speech and the image of a shepherd gathering and caring for the sheep. God has not forgotten them and God is not against them.

              We must seek the greater light

              Epiphany (Year C) Jan. 3 (Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

              What does Epiphany mean in 2010? Epiphany has been celebrated for more than 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus but each year we must ask again what it means for us in our present situation lest it becomes just another feast on the liturgical calendar.

                Strive to be at one with God

                Holy Family (Year C) Dec. 27 (1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52)

                The road to motherhood was a long and painful journey for Hannah as for many of the “barren women” of the Bible. Not only did she have to deal with the disappointment at being childless but the shame and guilt as well, for childlessness was thought to be a punishment or curse from God. Not even Hannah’s prayer to God was without difficulty — she had to endure the snide and contemptuous accusations of public drunkenness from Eli the prophet. But she was a woman of intense faith and her prayers were answered.

                  Give up self in service to God

                  Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 20 (Micah 5:2-5; Psalm 80; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45)

                  One of the little (some translations say “least”) clans of Judea — not what a city would want to put on its promotional literature or web site. And yet who has not heard of Bethlehem? Great things definitely come from seemingly insignificant origins.

                    God asks that we be compassionate, just

                    Third Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 13 (Zephaniah 3:14-18; Isaiah 12; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18)

                    Prophets seldom make pleasant company, and the prophecies of Zephaniah for the most part do not make for pleasant reading. Writing during the reign of Josiah in the seventh century BC, Zephaniah preached against idolatry and other forms of religious corruption. In his attempts to stir the people to moral and spiritual renewal, he prophesied doom and misery for Jerusalem as punishment. He even expanded his prophecy to include the rest of the world in the coming judgment called the “Day of the Lord.” In their eyes, these warnings and prophecies were fulfilled with the destruction of the first temple in 586 BC by the Babylonians.

                      Light over darkness

                      Recently, I was chatting with a friend about many things — the state of Christianity, of the economy, the world, our lives, people we know. Finally my friend remarked, “The older I get, the more I see that there’s far more evil than good in the world.” His comment was quite understandable. Whether you look around, or whether you look within, it’s evident that evil twines everywhere, like a serpent coiling around one’s legs or a vine climbing a stone wall.

                      We happened to be sitting in front of a display of beautiful Christmas merchandise: wreaths, trees, toys, gifts and a stunning life-size nativity set. The nativity figures were all swathed in flowing clothes of filmy materials that enhanced their beauty, the way clothes should. The figures were artfully arranged so that they seemed to glorify one another, the way people should. The whole effect was a vision of loveliness, without shadow or pain or evil.