Sunday, July 12, 2020
Saturday, July 11, 2020
The Weeds in the Wheat: Stay Out of the Garden!
This parable is part of a series of parables Jesus continues to use, which develops Matthew’s theme of fulfillment (“I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world”--Psalm 78). Indeed this parable is part of a series of parables about the acceptance and rejection of Jesus. This theme of acceptance tinged with rejection is especially relevant for Matthew’s community, who, at the end of the first century is experiencing rejection within the Jewish community.
Today’s parable suggests the “weeds” appearing among the “wheat” represent those within the Christian community who are subverting Christ’s kingdom, “the field.” On another level, the field is the landscape of the human heart where the Christian must pursue the spiritual life while struggling against the evil from within.
In response to the “weeds among the wheat,” Jesus counsels patience and tolerance. It is the Son of Man who will oversee the final judgment and separation of the weeds from the wheat. We are asked to refrain from weeding the fields lest we destroy the good with the bad. Christians on a weeding tear have historically done a great deal of damage. Think of the Inquisition and the Crusades as a couple of notable examples. In considering the substantial damage done to the kingdom by zealous gardeners, best we leave the wedding to the pros (ref. The Trinity). But what can we do with our itch to weed?
Perhaps our zealous weeding should first be practiced within our hearts, where the Holy Spirit and mature spiritual direction can bring about a more excellent purification. Put away your weed killers and trowels; see what the weeds look like first that lie sprouting within your heart, and by the time you have finished that job, God’s judgment will surely have been visited upon the world.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Who is afraid of good news?
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Become What You Receive
Saturday, May 30, 2020
The first action at Pentecost had to do with the paradox of a single group of men from a particular region speaking so that others who spoke many other languages heard them in their own language. Perhaps the message was one of universal salvation. Scripture simply says the Spirit ". . . enabled them to proclaim. . . . the mighty acts of God." What could be mightier than the gathering of all nations to the loving call of God?
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. (1Cor.12:12-13)
Love is the language of the Holy Spirit and the sure sign of God’s dwelling and the source of our comfort, instruction, healing light, and salvation
Saturday, May 9, 2020
Greater Works than Jesus' Miracles
In today's gospel from John (14:1-12), Jesus boldly proclaims: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father." After turning water into wine, feeding thousands from five loaves and two fish, healing lepers, the deaf, the blind, the lame, and even after raising the dead, the Apostles must have been thinking this is another one of his exaggeration parables, But it wasn't.
These great miracles of Jesus were signs of the Kingdom, but they were not the Kingdom. The signs announced the arrival of the Kingdom, which wasn't a place but a person: Jesus. Jesus, in saying he was the Way was proclaiming that all those miracles, all those signs, were pointing to him because "heaven" isn't a place, its an existence of persons, the Holy Trinity, of which Jesus is the Way.
How then are we, who are left behind, hugging ourselves in fear, able to do greater works than Jesus? Because what Jesus leaves with us is the peace of God's spirit, which is the essence of holiness, or completion. We no longer need to see God's face and live because through the Holy Spirit, we live as the face of God through Christ to the world. Following Christ means becoming Christ through our baptism and sacramental life of the Church. The "greater works," then, are the works of the Spirit. Raising the dead may be impressive, and a sign of the divine, but through Christ, we offer eternal life, resurrection rather than resuscitation; Lazarus eventually died for good.
St. Thomas Aquinas suggests wrote in his commentary on John
"...for the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth. For the justification of the wicked, considered in itself, continues forever...But the heavens and the earth will pass away..."
We don't need to "go to heaven" to see God's face; we have a divine mission to become the face of God through Christ's Way as we walk together with the Church the ways of obedience, of sacrifice, and even of death, that leads us to resurrection and eternal life.
Sunday, April 5, 2020
Today, we begin Holy Week. We see the Passion from Jesus' entry into Jerusalem to rolling the stone to seal the tomb. On Monday we rewind to six days before Passover, followed Tuesday and Wednesday with the Passover meal and Jesus' subsequent betrayal by Judas. Holy Thursday is Jesus washing his disciple's feet and telling them "If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet." Good Friday, we, once again, meditate on The Cross.
So Sunday and Friday, we speak of the Lord's passion, of God's love of His creation.
Passion. The word evokes reckless adventure, impulsive romance, gestures too big to fulfill, and the brief but intense relationship of Romeo and Juliet. This word places Jesus in the tradition of the foolish Romantics—an itinerant preacher from the margins schooled by his radical cousin (John the Baptist) and led to make one final, dramatic gesture to get his message out: die as a martyr. But Jesus’ death was unlike the death of many of the martyred faithful to come. His death wasn't for a cause, but a relationship. God fell hopelessly in love with humanity and inserted Himself to be with His own creation to deliver this message of healing, love, and forgiveness. God’s power isn't the power of Zeus with lightning bolts from the heavens, but God’s message is now simply “Return; I love you”.
Throughout Holy Scripture, God has struggled and seemingly failed many times, just as His people have. It has been an on-and-off-again cosmic love story between the Creator and His creation since humanity was first created and was given a choice not to love God. This dance between Creator and created culminated in His great and defining act of love: self-sacrifice on the cross.
Today’s gospel reading recounts this journey to the cross with Jesus as God leading the way, experiencing the pain and abandonment of His creation, the physical pain of a gruesome, ignominious death, giving into the abyss of his own uncreated end---all for love. But in this remarkable journey, he found a few responding with courage: Simon of Cyrene shared some in your suffering, the women who gathered at the foot of the cross and stayed there long after the men had scattered for fear of being arrested, the felon who believed because he, of all people, responded to the suffering of an innocent man, and finally the Roman centurion who saw in this suffering man God’s love. This is pretty intense stuff
Rather than struggling to believe, many struggle to disbelieve because God’s affirmation of his creation, of saying “yes” to the cross, is the ultimate folly for a world seeking certainty over mystery. God as Jesus, crucified, dead and buried. Stay tuned.