Joy

Third Sunday of Advent (B)

“You say you are a Christian. Then where the devil is your joy?” – Georges Bernanos

Joy.

On this, the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), the liturgy we celebrate returns again and again to this theme of joy. Witness the Opening Prayer at Mass: “Enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation, and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.” Witness the first reading: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul”. Witness Paul, in the second reading: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks.” Joy. Rejoice. The message seems clear. Continue reading “Joy”

Comfort To My People

Second Sunday of Advent (B)

“Comfort, give comfort to my people”, says your God. – Isaiah 40:1

You are seven years old, riding your bike on a  warm summer’s day. Your front tire hits a patch of sand and loses traction. You fall, skinning your right elbow and knee. The new wounds sting, but the sensation of falling is more frightening to you than the wounds. You seek your mother. If she’s available, you go to her immediately. If not, you tell her as soon as possible. She may give you some unsolicited advice about being careful on your bike – advice that is painfully obvious to you now. Chances are that she will also clean your scrapes, put ointment and bandages on them, give you a hug or a kiss, and reassure you that all is well. You may head out again, your scrapes still stinging. But you are no longer overwhelmed. Your mother consoled you and told you that it will be okay – and you believe her. You may even show off your new scars to your friends, as though you were a Purple Heart soldier with battle scars. Your mother’s comfort has made all the difference. Continue reading “Comfort To My People”

Rending the Heavens

First Sunday of Advent (B)

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down with the mountains quaking before you… while you worked awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as had not been heard of from of old.” – from Isaiah 64:19-65:3

Batman. Superman. Spiderman. Wonder Woman. Thor. The Hulk. Many of you can add more such characters to my list. One of the fascinating  phenomena in American popular culture in the last century is the rise of the superhero. Someone who can combat evil with unusual powers or abilities. These characters first appeared in comic books, but they would soon make their way to TV and eventually movie stardom. Even now, successful movies continue to be made featuring them.   Continue reading “Rending the Heavens”

Sheep and Goats

Feast of Christ the King (A) – Matthew 25:31-46

The Last Judgment. The separation of sheep and goats. “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers (or sisters) of mine, you did for me”.

Most of us are quite familiar with this teaching of Jesus. It has inspired many saints – known and unknown – throughout the centuries. Works of art and hymns, as well as many of our social justice teachings, have been based on it. This scene has become integrated into the very fiber of our being as Catholic Christians.  Continue reading “Sheep and Goats”

“Pro Orantibus” Day

Today, November 21, is the feast of the Presentation of Mary. It is also “Pro Orantibus” Day – a day set aside, since the time of Pope Pius XII, to honor, support and pray for those whose vocation is to pray for the Church and the world. The focus on this day is mainly on cloistered orders of religious women and contemplative orders of religious men. It also includes hermits, who are called to separate themselves from the world in order to live lives of prayer and penance for the sake of all.   Continue reading ““Pro Orantibus” Day”