Jesus asks: “What do you want me to do for you?”

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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 28, 2012
Jer 31:7-9; Ps 126; Heb 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight. And the first thing he saw was Jesus: the eyes of Jesus, shining with power and love and healing; the eyes of the one who had given him his sight. And he followed Jesus on the way.

Jesus is famous for asking questions. Some years ago, the Jesuit Father John Dear began to write down every question Jesus ever asked in the Gospels—and he got to 307 questions, not even counting the questions that are contained in Jesus’ parables (see his book The Questions of Jesus). And one of Jesus’ most provocative questions is the one that he asks Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel reading: “What do you want me to do for you?” (more…)

Jesus isn’t asking for your vote: He is pouring out his life for you, in mercy and grace

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 21, 2012
Isa 53:10-11; Ps 33; Heb 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

  • Five weeks ago, we heard the first time in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus told his disciples about his coming Passion (8:31). Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah; and then, after Jesus tells them that he will suffer and die and rise again, Peter begins to rebuke him.
  • Four weeks ago, we heard the second time that he told them about his Passion (9:31). That time, they were too afraid to ask him any questions, but instead took to discussing among themselves who was the greatest.
  • And in our Gospel reading today, Jesus has just predicted his Passion a third time, in greater detail than before. And how do they respond? James and John come to him and ask him for a favor: that in his glory they might sit one at his right and the other at his left.

They don’t seem to be getting the message! (more…)

The child, the rich young man, and the eye of the needle

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 14, 2012
Wis 7:7-11; Ps 90; Heb 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30

“How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” our Lord Jesus declares in our Gospel reading today. “How hard!” You didn’t think that it would be easy, and that everyone would automatically be entering heaven, did you? Because that is not Jesus’ message. As he says in a different passage:

“The gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matt 7:13-14)

And yet, in last week’s reading, immediately before this week’s passage starts, he welcomes the little children and says, “Do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” These form an interesting pair: the children and the rich young man in today’s passage. What is the lesson here? What does it mean to accept the kingdom of God like a child? (more…)

Recibir el Reino de Dios como un niño

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XXVIII Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 14 Octubre 2012
Sab 7, 7-11; Sal 89; Heb 4, 12-13; Mc 10, 17-30

“¡Qué difícil es entrar en el reino de Dios!” nuestro Señor Jesús declara en la lectura del Evangelio de hoy. “¡Qué difícil!” No pensabas que sería fácil, y que todo el mundo entraría automáticamente en el cielo, ¿verdad? Porque esto no es el mensaje de Jesús. Como dice en otro pasaje:

“Ancha es la puerta y amplia es la senda que lleva a la perdición, y muchos son los que entran por ella. Pero estrecha es la puerta y angosta la senda que lleva a la vida, y pocos son los que la hallan.” (Mt 7, 13-14)

Pero todavía, en la lectura de la semana pasada, que ocurre inmediatamente antes del principio del pasaje de hoy, nuestro Señor dio la bienvenida a los niños y dijo: “No se lo impidan, porque el Reino de Dios es de los que son como ellos. Les aseguro que el que no reciba el Reino de Dios como un niño, no entrará en él.” Estos forman una pareja interesante: los niños y el joven rico en el pasaje de hoy. ¿Qué es la lección para nosotros? ¿Qué significa recibir el reino de Dios como un niño? (more…)

Like Jesus, we must defend true marriage

This is a translation of the Spanish homily that I preached on this Sunday.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 7, 2012
Gen 2:18-24; Ps 128; Heb 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

In Jesus’ time, marriage was a mess. The legal rights of husbands and of wives were thoroughly unequal. As we heard in the Gospel reading, a man was able to divorce his wife simply by writing her a bill of divorce and dismissing her. It was that easy for a man to end the marriage he had vowed. And scholars of the time debated about what qualified as a just reason for a man to divorce his wife. The stricter school said, only something like adultery; the looser school allowed almost any reason, including—and I’m not making this up—”even if she spoiled a dish for him” (School of Hillel, in the Mishnah). For such trivial reasons a man could send his wife away. (more…)

Como Jesús, debemos defender el matrimonio verdadero

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XXVII Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 7 Octubre 2012
Gn 2, 18-24; Sal 127; Heb 2, 9-11; Mc 10, 2-16

En la época de Jesús, el matrimonio estaba revuelto. Los derechos legales de esposos y esposas eran completamente desiguales. Como oímos en la lectura del Evangelio, un hombre pudo divorciarse de su mujer simplemente por darle carta de divorcio y repudiarla. Para un hombre, era tan fácil terminar el matrimonio que había prometido. Y los eruditos discutían sobre qué razones eran justos, por las cuales un hombre pudiera divorciarse de su esposa. El grupo más estricto dijo, sólo algo como el adulterio; el grupo más suelto lo permitió por casi cualquier razón, inclusive—y lo digo en serio—“aún si ella estropeó un plato.” (Escuela de Hilel, en la Mishná) Por razones tan triviales, un hombre pudo repudiar a su esposa. (more…)