Spiritual zombies and the Divine Physician

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 30, 2012
Num 11:25-29; Ps 19; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-48

The writer Ross Douthat, in his recent book on religion in America (Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, pp. 152-53), has observed that

Christianity is a paradoxical religion because the Jew of Nazareth is a paradoxical character. No figure in history or fiction contains as many multitudes as the New Testament’s Jesus.

And then he proceeds to list many pairs of paradoxical traits and actions that we see in our Lord Jesus. For example, he writes:

He can be egalitarian and hierarchical, gentle and impatient, extraordinarily charitable and extraordinarily judgmental. He sets impossible standards and then forgives the worst of sinners. (more…)

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Zombis espirituales y el médico divino

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XXVI Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 30 Septiembre 2012
Nm 11, 25-29; Sal 18; St 5, 1-6; Mc 9, 38-48

Nuestro Señor Jesucristo siempre nos sorprende. Dice algo, y entonces dice otro, que no habíamos esperado. Hace algo, y entonces hace otro con contraste. Un escritor norteamericano lo ha llamado un “carácter paradójico” y provee ejemplos de pares de calidades y acciones paradójicas que vemos en nuestro Señor. Escribe:

Puede ser igualitaria y jerárquica, suave e impaciente, extraordinariamente caritativo y extraordinariamente crítico. Establece normas imposibles y entonces perdona a los peores de pecadores. (Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, pp. 152-53; traducción mía)

Y observa que el cristianismo ortodoxo siempre ha sido fiel en abrazar y proclamar la totalidad de Jesús; (more…)

Walking with Jesus in consistency and hope

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 23, 2012
Wis 2:12, 17-20; Ps 54; James 3:16–4:3; Mark 9:30-37

This is embarrassing! These disciples of Jesus: they follow him, travel with him, see everything he does, hear everything he says. They do so because they have been so impressed by him and want to learn from his teaching and follow his way. And yet, look at them in this reading! They don’t understand what he tells them about his coming death and resurrection, and yet they are afraid to ask him to explain it. And on their journey they are arguing about which of them is the greatest—which is so very foreign to everything that Jesus is about.

How is this possible? How can the disciples believe in him and love him and follow him and listen to him—and yet seemingly be walking a completely different path from him? (more…)

Jesus has a couple questions for you

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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 16, 2012
Isa 50:5-9; Ps 116; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

Caesarea Philippi is a long way from here—located in what is now called the Golan Heights, to the northeast of the Sea of Galilee, where the states of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria come together. And it was a long time ago that our Lord Jesus led his disciples there, out of the territory of their own Jewish People, into pagan, Gentile territory. And there he, the teacher, asked his disciples a question: “Who do people say that I am?”

It was long ago and far away, but surely that question was just as strange then as it is now. For they, like we, were concerned with violence in their world; they faced economic problems; they were struggling with who should govern their land; on top of their own personal problems. (more…)

¿Qué significa seguir al Mesías?

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XXIV Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 16 Septiembre 2012
Is 50, 5-9; Sal 114; St 2, 14-18; Mc 8, 27-35

Cesarea de Filipo está muy lejos de aquí—en el área ahora conocida como los Altos del Golán, cerca de la frontera de los estados actuales de Israel, Siria, y Líbano. Y fue hace muchos siglos que nuestro Señor Jesús guió a sus discípulos allá, fuera del territorio de su propio Pueblo Judío, hasta territorio gentil y pagano. Y allá el maestro les puso una pregunta a sus discípulos: “¿Quién dice la gente que soy yo?”

Aunque fue hace muchos siglos y muy lejos, seguramente su pregunta pareció tan extraña como ahora. Porque a ellos, como a nosotros, les preocupaban la violencia en su mundo, y los problemas económicas, y la cuestión de quién debería gobernar a su país; y, por supuesto, sus problemas personales. (more…)

¡Comparte el gozo!

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XXIII Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 9 Septiembre 2012
Is 35, 4-7; Sal 145; St 2, 1-5; Mc 7, 31-37

¿Notaron el gozo que brota de nuestras lecturas de hoy? En la primera lectura, el Señor dice: “Digan a los de corazón apocado: ‘¡Ánimo! No teman. He aquí que su Dios… viene ya para salvarlos.” Y oímos de la sanación y la renovación de los problemas físicos profundos, como la ceguera y la sordera—y ¡el cojo no sólo anda, sino salta! ¡El mudo no sólo habla, sino canta! Brotan aguas; y la tierra seca se convierte en manantial.

El salmo también habla de los prodigios que Dios hace por los ciegos, los hambrientos; por la viuda y el huérfano; por el cautivo y el oprimido y el forastero. Y grita el salmista: “El Señor siempre es fiel a su palabra… (more…)

Share the joy!

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 9, 2012
Isa 35:4-7; Ps 146; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37

Did you notice the joy that bursts out of our readings today? In the first reading, the Lord says: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God… he comes to save you.” And as we hear about the healing and renewing of these deep physical disorders, like blindness and deafness—the lame don’t just walk, they leap! And the mute don’t just speak, they sing! Streams burst forth; and burning, thirsty ground becomes springs of water.

The psalm too speaks of the great things that God does for the blind, the hungry; for widows and the fatherless; for captives and the oppressed and strangers. And the psalmist cries: “The God of Jacob keeps faith forever… (more…)

¿Qué entra en y mancha el corazón?

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XXII Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 2 Septiembre 2012
Dt 4, 1-2.6-8; Sal 14; St 1, 17-18.21-22.27; Mc 7, 1-8.14-15.21-23

Después de nuestros cinco domingos en el Evangelio según San Juan, nuestra lectura de hoy viene del Evangelio según San Marcos. Y oímos que, poco después de que nuestro Señor Jesús alimentó milagrosamente a los 5000, ahora está en medio de una discusión con los fariseos y los escribas sobre unas cuestiones de la pureza ritual: del lavado de manos habitual, y también de los leyes rituales sobre la alimentación.

Y notamos que San Marcos hace una pausa para explicar a sus lectores, en el mundo griego y romano, qué eran estos costumbres judíos. Y nosotros también necesitamos esa explicación—porque la motivación de este lavado no era higiénico; no era para mantener la limpieza física y no propagar las enfermedades. No, fue para la pureza ritual, para mantenerse aprobado y sin mancha ante los ojos de Dios. (more…)

What enters and defiles the heart?

This is a translation of the Spanish homily that I preached on this Sunday.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 2, 2012
Deut 4:1-2, 6-8; Ps 15; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

After five weeks in the Gospel of John, our Gospel reading today comes from the Gospel according to Mark. And we hear that, shortly after our Lord Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5000, he is now involved in an argument with the Pharisees and the scribes about some questions of ritual purity: about the customary washing of hands, and also the ritual food laws.

And we notice that St. Mark stops to explain to his readers, in the Greek and Roman world, just what these Jewish customs were. And we need that explanation too—because the motivation for this washing was not hygienic, or maintaining physical cleanliness so as not to spread disease. Rather, it was for ritual purity, for keeping oneself approved and undefiled in the sight of God. (more…)