When Jesus spoke to the people of his time, he used images with which they were quite familiar. In his day, anyone walking in the countryside could see shepherds watching over their sheep...In our day, I wonder what kind of an image today’s gospel brings up to our minds. For many, I’m sure, a sheep is some soft, wooly, cuddly animal–a fitting pet for someone like Little Bo Peep. Maybe some sheep are like that, but not all of them are. Here’s how I know.
There are many things and experiences in life that create fear in us. Anything from heights to speaking in public. Fear is a crippler. It prevents us from enjoying life in its fullness. Think about the fears you have or have dealt with in the past that made your life more difficult than it needs to be.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t entirely successful in my Lenten promises. I was hoping to enter Easter with a renewed sense of accomplishment. However, because of my missteps, and good intentions gone awry, I was confronted by what I could not do. I was humbled. I felt defeated ...but then I remembered a line from one of my favorite artists. In his song, Anthem, Leonard Cohen sings: There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.
Easter is a story about dirt and graves and uncertainty. Even Mary Magdalene mistook Jesus for a gardener.
Nadia Bolz-Weber, a theologian and author, reminds us that the depictions in churches of the risen Christ never show dirt under his nails. Somehow, we needed to ‘clean things up’ for Easter, so no one would be offended by the truth.
Brennan Manning tells the following story which he calls “The Signature of Jesus”: An elderly man meditated each morning on the bank of the Ganges River. One morning as he finished his prayers and opened his eyes, he saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water.
It was the last week of Jesus’ life. Some Greek Gentiles, sincere folks who had been attracted by the faith and practices of Judaism, had witnessed Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem and wanted to hear more. They approached Philip, one of the few apostles who spoke Greek, and said: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus!”
As we look upon our nation at this time in its history, there are as many distinct and different narratives as is to be expected in a large country of great diversity. However, for those who have lived a half-century or more, we cannot but see the political and perhaps cultural dividing lines growing further apart.
If we could travel in time, I would take us back 2000 years to the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus. What we would find would be that coins were minted by hand. Each coin started off as a round slug of a precious metal like bronze, silver or gold.
Today, we are presented with two mysteries. The first mystery is the Lord transfigured: Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets, the culmination of salvation history, the apex of God’s plan to draw all things to Himself, shining forth in glory as much as earthly light allows and human eye can accept.
The second mystery involves the apostles.
No sooner was the glory of the hour of the Baptism over than there came the battle of the temptations. It was the Spirit who thrust Jesus out into the wilderness for the testing time. The very Spirit who came upon him at his Baptism now drove him out for the test.
Friends, Leprosy is scary. True leprosy, what we now know of as Hansen’s disease, is a horrible disease that used to take anywhere for 7 to 30 years to kill its victims. In our day it can be treated but not cured, and many of the symptoms can be controlled through medication.
Every parent with more than one child has had the experience of turning to one of the children and saying, “Go get your brother for dinner”; and the child, without taking a step, turns and yells, “Tommy! Dinnertime!” And every parent always says the same thing: “Well, I could have done that!”
Jesus was about 4 months into his public life when the incident described in today’s gospel took place. By this time he had gathered his first disciples around him. He moved with them from Jerusalem (it was already dangerous for him there), through the alien land of Samaria, into Galilee.
As the Christmas and holiday seasons close, all of us, in some form or another, are trying to get back on track. Back to routines, resolutions, packing things away, and resume life as usual. It is a time to begin a new year and to renew resolutions and make new promises in the hopes to make this year different.
The Christmas season is over and now the children are back to school. We are getting back to normal, back to the ordinary life. The Church is also once again back to Ordinary Time; however, there is nothing ordinary about this season as it covers the whole of salvation history.
When we see a Nativity set we can immediately identify the key players: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds with their sheep as well as the obligatory cow oblivious to what is going on. We also encounter the three strangely over-dressed visitors who seem so out of place for such a humble spot. The song we sing calls them three kings yet that misses the mark.
When was the last time someone promised you something that was never fulfilled? … Or how many times have you made promises that you never kept? It seems to me that the readings during these days speak to us about promises… but promises that have been fulfilled!
“Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.” The Church proclaims these words in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm for the Night Mass of Christmas. We hear these words each year and we are invited once again to ponder the mystery of God becoming one with us in Jesus.
What is time? Immediately, we understand time as cyclical. After the 59th second, it goes back to zero. After the 59th minute, it goes back to zero. After the 12th hour, it goes back to 1. After winter is spring, then summer, then fall, then back to winter and so on and so forth.
Rejoice always! Surely there are moments when rejoicing is very appropriate and comes to us spontaneously and naturally. But “always”? What kind of a world did Paul live in that he could say such a thing...