Gift and Mission

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (A): Matthew 16:13-20

Catholic teaching points to this passage in Matthew’s Gospel as the moment when Jesus designates Peter as the primary witness of the Church’s faith in Jesus, as the head of the Apostles and thus as the first Pope. Most contemporary Scripture scholars (Protestant as well as Catholic) agree that Peter is being given a central role as the first of the Apostles, though not all agree on the implications of this role. However, Catholics believe that the mission given to Peter must endure as the Church has endured, and therefore this mission remains as that of Peter’s successors, the Popes. The Pope remains the primary witness of the Church’s faith in Jesus. Just as Jesus told Peter at the Last Supper that, after he had recovered his faith, he must strengthen his brethren, so too, the Pope is called upon to strengthen the faith of all who believe.  Continue reading “Gift and Mission”

A Woman of Great Faith

Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (A): Matthew 15:21-28

Every generation has had its favorite images of Jesus. Since the 1960’s, we have tended to stress the ‘softer’ side of Jesus – his compassion, his openness, his willingness to forgive, his inclusivity. In other words, we have emphasized those aspects of Jesus which seem to fit best with the predominant values of our own culture. Many sayings and deeds of Jesus appear to fit this pattern.

But every now and then, we come across something like today’s Gospel reading. Continue reading “A Woman of Great Faith”

Blessed Is She Who Believed

Feast of the Assumption: Luke 1:39-56

What is your greatest achievement?

Do you find this question difficult to answer? Do you wonder if anything you have done can be called “great”? Would you feel embarrassed to even try to answer such a question? After all, most of us will never lead an army to victory in a historically significant battle, or write a book that will change the way everyone thinks, or find a cure for some previously incurable disease. One can think of similar achievements that most people would call great. However, would any of these, as impressive as they may be, be our greatest achievement even if we actually did one of these?  Continue reading “Blessed Is She Who Believed”

Is It Really You, Lord?

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (A) –  Matthew 14:22-33

It’s a familiar scene from the Gospels.

The disciples are in a boat, struggling with wind and rough waters by night. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. Peter cries out, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”. Jesus says, “Come”, and Peter comes. However, seeing the wind and waves, Peter loses heart. Beginning to sink, he cries out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus does do, and then gently chides him for his ‘little faith’.

We usually see Peter’s ‘little faith’ as being his fear in the face of wind and wave. We often hear homilies extolling Peter’s willingness to leave the safety of the boat in faith, but then telling us how Peter took his eyes off Jesus and then sunk. But what if there was another way to understand this story? What it Peter’s lack of faith happened earlier, before he even left the boat?  Continue reading “Is It Really You, Lord?”


Feast of the Transfiguration (A): Matthew 17:1-9

You know something’s happening here
but you don’t know what it is
do you, Mr. Jones? – Bob Dylan

Old Mr. Webster could never define
what’s bein’ said between your heart and mine
– from the song “When You Say Nothing At All”
recorded by Alison Krauss & Union Station


All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
as from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

Who are we, really? Or, what are we intended to be? Since each one of us has our personal vocation, a part of our response to this will also be personal and unique. However, as human beings, we share a common nature and, in a general sense, a common vocation. What might that be? Continue reading “Transfigured”