All Things Work For Good

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (A): Romans 8:28-30

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

All things work for good.

Really?

To many people today, that statement, taken out of its context, will seem way too optimistic. We have seen, time and time again, the evils that all too often capture our minds and wills – everything from horrifying atrocities that happen in far-off places to the mean-spirited pettiness that can afflict us where we live. When we witness terrorism, gratuitous violence of other kinds, divisions between people, childish politics, environmental dangers, economic uncertainties, and other challenges in our world, and the personal trials we all face, it becomes increasingly difficult to think that “all things work for good”. At times, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. How could Paul say such a thing, we wonder?  Continue reading “All Things Work For Good”

The Hospitality of Silence

Seventh Sunday of Easter (A): Acts 1:12-14

“Interior noise makes it impossible to welcome anyone or anything.” – Pope Francis

Preachers often find the Seventh Sunday of Easter a challenging one. By now, they have already used their favorite Easter themes in their homilies. Moreover, this isn’t a day when much appears to be happening. We have just celebrated Ascension, and now we look forward to Pentecost. In our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christian community has gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem for prayer. No brainstorming or strategizing sessions; no lively discussions of how best to fulfill the Lord’s mandate to bring the Gospel to all nations. They are gathered together, in one accord, in prayer. No one speaks or does anything else in our first reading. We are in an in-between time, or so it seems. In other words, it is a time of waiting in silence.  Continue reading “The Hospitality of Silence”

Our Father

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent: Matthew 6:7-15

“I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes.” – Edward Everett to Abraham Lincoln, on the occasion of the Gettysburg Address, 1863

In the Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday, Jesus tells us how we ought to approach almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Lent began with this because, in the experience of the Church, Lent is the time par excellence when we go back to these fundamentals and renew our commitment to them. In fact, today’s Gospel, where Jesus teaches us the Our Father in Matthew’s Gospel, actually comes right after his words on almsgiving and prayer, and precedes his words on fasting. The Our Father, then, is offered to us as one of the fundamentals of Christian life. It is a prayer taught us by Jesus himself. But it also teaches us how to pray and how to live our Christian life in general. Many of the saints of the Church, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, viewed the Our Father as a very dense summary of the whole of Christian faith. Contemporary authors, like Scott Hahn and Tom Wright, write of the Our Father in the same way.  Continue reading “Our Father”