What kind of king is Jesus?

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year B: Nov. 25, 2012
Dan 7:13-14; Ps 93; Rev 1:5-8; John 18:33-37

In our Gospel reading today, it is the morning of Good Friday. Jesus had been captured and questioned during the night by the Jewish authorities—but, because they are not authorized to carry out the death penalty, they have brought him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, seeking his execution. And so we hear Pilate’s initial questioning of Jesus.

He begins by asking, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And do you notice that Jesus does not answer this question directly? Instead, he asks Pilate a question: “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Who is questioning, and who is being questioned, has been reversed. Now it is Jesus examining Pilate: his heart, his thoughts, his intentions, his identity. How ready is Pilate to accept Jesus as king? (more…)

The wellspring of thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 22, 2012
Sir 50:22-24; Ps 145; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Luke 17:11-19

A week or two ago, I received the latest newsletter from the Saint Luke Institute, which helps priests and religious sisters who have run into psychological difficulties. And the article on the front page was written by none other than Fr. Hugh Lagan SMA (who was recently resident in this parish for a couple years and is a member of their clinical staff). In this article, he spoke about “positive psychology,” which, rather than focusing upon psychological illness, instead studies what it takes for human beings to grow and function well and thrive. Toward the end of the article, he passed on two specific tips:

  • Count your blessings: Every evening for one week, write down three things that went well during the day. This can help refocus your thoughts on the positive, rather than the negative, and enhance your well-being. (more…)

Witnesses to joy

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Nov. 18, 2012
Dan 12:1-3; Ps 16; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

For the Secular Discalced Carmelites (OCDS) at their semiannual Profession Mass.

As we approach the end of this liturgical year, our Gospel reading today comes from the 13th chapter of the Gospel according to Mark—a chapter sometimes known as the “Little Apocalypse,” for in it our Lord Jesus prepares his disciples for what would be coming. Some of it would be coming just 40 years later, when Jerusalem would be conquered and the Temple destroyed by the Roman Empire, while some of the generation of his time were still living. Some would come beyond that, in the future; indeed, even now it has yet to come. (more…)

Rejoice! Jesus is coming soon!

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Nov. 18, 2012
Dan 12:1-3; Ps 16; Heb 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

At this time of year, the days are getting darker, the weather is getting colder; and our liturgical year is coming to its end. Today is the second-last Sunday of the liturgical year, and the last one in which we will hear from the Gospel according to Mark in this Year B of the lectionary cycle. And today we hear a portion of Chapter 13 of that Gospel, in which Jesus is telling his disciples what to expect in the future—so that this chapter is sometimes known as the “Little Apocalypse.”

And we notice that he cautions them: “Of that day or hour, no one knows.” (more…)

El amor total del Señor: qué significa, qué logra

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XXXI Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 4 Noviembre 2012
Dt 6, 2-6; Sal 17; Heb 7, 23-28; Mc 12, 28-34

A veces, los varios elementos en nuestras vidas se resumen en una decisión muy básica: ¿De qué tratan nuestras vidas? ¿Qué queremos? ¿Qué elegimos?

Cuando yo era un adulto joven, pasé unos años dudando de la fe cristiana en la cual había sido criado, y poniendo preguntas de ella. En mi exploración, leí de unas semejanzas de las prácticas espirituales cristianas y las prácticas espirituales budistas. Pero pude ver que, más allá de las semejanzas, hay una diferencia en los propósitos que ambos persiguen. El budismo busca el nirvana, un estado de la ausencia de dolor, por una ausencia de deseo: un tipo de vaciedad. A diferencia, el cristianismo busca el punto de estar llenado—por el amor. Y, ¿qué buscaría yo: una vaciedad de deseo, o la llenura de amor? (more…)

Empty? Lukewarm? Or full of love?

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Nov. 4, 2012
Deut 6:2-6; Ps 18; Heb 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34

When I was in my early 20s, for a number of years I was questioning the Christian faith in which I had been raised. And as I explored, I read that there were many similarities between Christian spiritual practices and Buddhist spiritual practices. And yet, for all the similarities, there was quite a difference when it came to the goals toward which they were striving. Buddhism sought to reach nirvana, a state that is the absence of suffering, through the absence of desire: a sort of emptiness. Christianity, in contrast, sought to reach the point of being filled—with love. What would I seek: an emptiness from desire, or a fullness of love? (more…)