What does it mean to be the Son of God?

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1st Sunday of Lent, Year C: Feb. 17, 2013
Deut 26:4-10; Ps 91:1-2, 10-15; Rom 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

Several years ago, while I was in seminary, I had a chance to watch Joel Osteen on television for the first time. I had heard of him, this Evangelical Protestant preacher with a growing following; but I hadn’t seen him. What would he be like? What would he say? Standing near a great, turning frame of a globe, he told his listeners that they were children of God; children of the King; royalty! And I thought: Great; good message! Because this is indeed what Christ has made us in baptism, adopting us into his Sonship, making us adopted sons and daughters of God. It’s an important message, and one that we need to be reminded of again and again.

And then he proceeded on to apply that message. Being a son or daughter of the King means—that you are a winner! What?, I thought. (more…)

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¿Qué significa ser el Hijo de Dios?

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I Domingo de Cuaresma, Año C: 17 Febrero 2013
Dt 26, 4-10; Sal 90; Rom 10, 8-13; Lc 4, 1-13

Hace varios años, mientras que yo estaba en el seminario, tuve la oportunidad de ver a Joel Osteen en la televisión por primera vez. Yo había oído de él, de este predicador protestante evangélico mirado por un número creciente de personas, pero yo no lo había visto. ¿Cómo sería? ¿Qué diría? Vi al hombre, de pie cerca de la forma de un gran globo: le dijo a sus oyentes que eran hijos de Dios; hijos del Rey; ¡personas reales! Y yo pensé: ¡Muy bien; buen mensaje! Porque esto es de verdad lo que Cristo nos ha hecho en el bautismo, adoptándonos en su filiación, haciéndonos hijos e hijas adoptivos de Dios. Es un mensaje importante, y es uno que necesitamos recordar una y otra vez.

Y luego continuó a aplicar ese mensaje. Ser un hijo o una hija del Rey significa—¡que usted es un ganador! ¿Qué?, pensé. (more…)

Immaculate Conception: All beautiful!

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The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Dec. 8, 2012
Gen 3:9-15, 20; Ps 98; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

“Where are you?” we hear the Lord God call to Adam in the first reading. “Where are you?” For we read in the previous verse that the Lord is walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and Eve have hidden themselves. On previous days, surely, they had run out to meet their beloved Creator with joy as soon as they perceived his presence near them. But now they have sinned for the first time. They have allowed fear and greed and lies to drive a wedge between them and God, and to reshape them in that twisted image; to place that stain upon their hearts, and upon human nature itself which they would pass on to their descendents forever after. Suspecting, accusing, hiding, lying, taking, killing: all of this and more in the stain of original sin. (more…)

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…)

Immaculate Conception: Open hands, open heart

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Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Dec. 8, 2011

Gen 3:9-15, 20; Ps 98; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

Today we celebrate that great gift that was given to the Virgin Mary from the first moment of her conception—a unique gift to prepare her for her unique vocation to be Mother of God. And our Scripture readings set her beside Eve—one woman and the other, so often compared, so often contrasted. And as the two of them come into focus, one thing that draws my attention is their body language—especially what they are doing with their hands.

For Eve’s hands, earlier in the same chapter of Genesis from which the first reading is taken, had closed—in fear and suspicion of God. She had reached out with them to take the fruit from the forbidden tree. (more…)

Inmaculada Concepción: Con las manos abiertas

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Inmaculada Concepción de la Virgen María:
8 Diciembre 2011

Gn 3, 9-15.20; Sal 97; Ef 1, 3-6.11-12; Lc 1, 26-38

En esta fiesta celebramos el don dado a la Virgen Maria en el primer instante de su concepción—un don especial, un don único, que la preparó para vivir su vocación única. Y para que entendamos este don, la primera lectura nos señala a Eva.

Y, en pensar en esta pareja de mujeres, sucede que pienso en su lenguaje gestual—en lo que hacen con sus manos.

Las manos de Eva, anteriormente en el capítulo, han cerrado en miedo y el recelo de Dios. (more…)

To redeem and to save what was lost

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: August 28, 2011
Jer 20:7-9; Ps 63; Rom 12:1-2; Matt 16:21-27

As we celebrate this Holy Mass today, we all are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irene—which will bring strong rains and powerful winds, and will cause a lot of damage, especially along the coast. And we might think back three weeks ago, when we heard the Gospel reading about the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee at night, when a powerful storm came up, with great winds and waves that tossed their boat around and threatened their lives; and Jesus came to them, walking on the water; and then he calmed the storm.

The disciples knew about storms—and not just the storms on that sea. They knew about the great storms that we constantly face in this earthly life: (more…)

The world, the flesh, and the freedom of the easy yoke of Christ

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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: July 2-3, 2011
Zech 9:9-10; Ps 145; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Matt 11:25-30

The desires we feel in our bodies are not always good for our bodies. The desires that we feel in our flesh are not always good for our flesh.

We know that this is true from our own experience, if we think of our hunger for food. Our bodies need food to grow and to survive. But the problem is that sometimes we want to eat things that are not good for us. Or maybe we want food that is good for us, but we want too much of it; or too little of it; or we want it at the wrong times.

We know this. There is an entire weight-loss, dieting industry that is built upon the fact that the desires of our flesh will sometimes lead us in ways that are not good, not healthy, for the flesh itself. (more…)

This Lent, which tree in the garden are you eating from?

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1st Sunday of Lent, Year A: March 13, 2011
Gen 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Ps 51; Rom 5:12-19; Matt 4:1-11

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert and he fasted for forty days and forty nights. This past Wednesday we were led by the Spirit to begin our own period of 40 days: called Quadragesima in Latin, meaning 40 or 40th; or Lent in English.

And we began it with the imposition of ashes. We all got to remember again just how light ashes are; how easy to blow them into the air or spill them. How dirty they are and easy to smudge. And we also got to hear again those words: “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

In our first reading, we heard, “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground.” Many translations render this as “dust”: The Lord formed man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. What a thrilling sentence that is! (more…)