Clean and beautiful, inside and out

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Aug. 30, 2015
Deut 4:1-2, 6-8; Ps 15; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

In the Gospel reading we have just heard, the Pharisees and the scribes took Jesus’ disciples to task for not washing their hands before eating, according to the customs of the time. Now, we should remember that their motivation for such handwashing was not being sanitary, but rather ritual purity. The law that the Lord gave his people in the Old Covenant required certain kinds of washing—especially of priests preparing to offer sacrifice, but also of all people in certain circumstances—for the sake of ritual purity.

But there is a problem with the Pharisees’ view of this: (more…)

Always with us, as food for the journey

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Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi),
Year A: June 22, 2014

Deut 8:2-3, 14-16; Ps 147; 1 Cor 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

9 weeks ago, we were celebrating the Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

  • We recalled the original Passover and Exodus from Egypt, some 1400 years earlier, when the Lord rescued the People of Israel from slavery in Egypt. This was accomplished partly through the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, and also through the parting of the Red Sea, so that they could pass through on dry land. And so they were rescued from Egypt and set on their way to the Promised Land.
  • And so we celebrated the fulfillment of this foreshadowing in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true Passover Lamb. For by giving himself in sacrifice, he set us free not merely from earthly slavery, but from Satan and sin and death. And he passed through, not merely an earthly sea, but death itself, to open the transformed life of the Resurrection. Thus we have been saved and set on our way to the New Heavens and the New Earth.

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Siempre con nosotros, como comida para el viaje

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El Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo, Año A: 22 Junio 2014
Dt 8, 2-3.14-16; Sal 147; 1 Cor 10, 16-17; Jn 6, 51-58 (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…)

Los frutos hermosos que desea el Señor de ti, su viña

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XXVII Domingo Ordinario, Año A: 2 Octubre 2011
Is 5, 1-7; Sal 79; Flp 4, 6-9; Mt 21, 33-43

El Señor ha plantado una viña—oímos en la primera lectura y en la parábola de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. La cavó, la limpió de piedras y la plantó con cepas escogidas—la plantó con ti mismo. Te plantó a ti en su viña, en una loma fértil, te cuidó asiduamente, te trasplantó a otra tierra que la de tu nacimiento, y continúa cuidarte aquí.

Y desea frutos. Desea una cosecha de ti. ¿Qué tipo de frutos desea de tu vida? Sería fácil decir sólo “la equidad” y “la justicia,” como dice la primera lectura—como si sólo deseara que evites acciones obviamente injustas. Pero esa respuesta vino de antes de la nueva alianza que hizo Jesucristo en su propia sangre; antes de la gracia de los sacramentos; antes de la oferta de incorporarte en el cuerpo resucitado de Jesucristo. (more…)

Guarding our hearts and minds, and making them beautiful

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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: Oct. 2, 2011
Isa 5:1-7; Ps 80; Phil 4:6-9; Matt 21:33-43

As we go about our daily lives, we observe that many people are very careful about what they eat and drink. Some seek to eat only foods organically grown, or not involving genetic engineering. Many need to avoid foods they are allergic to—such as nuts, or gluten, or lactose—and perhaps they cannot take in even a trace amount of those substances. Certainly this is the case if someone is traveling to a country where food is not handled safely, and they can become sick by eating the wrong thing handled and prepared in a tainted environment.

This same care can also be taken with what we breathe in, so that we avoid second-hand smoke and are careful with air filters. Or in what we place against our skin: what our clothing is made of, or our sheets or other objects.

We are careful about what we take into our bodies by mouth, by breathing, by direct contact. But what about what we take into our hearts and minds, our souls, by seeing and hearing? (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…)