Who loves the body? Who wants the resurrection?

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Homily at Miraculous Medal Novena, April 8, 2013
1 Cor 15:12-20

Do we believe in the immortality of the soul, or the resurrection of the body?

It might seem that I am creating a trick question in putting it that way, since the answer is actually: “Both.” But it is actually a helpful question, because it reminds us that the two concepts are not exactly the same. And it is possible to believe in one without the other; or even to emphasize one to such a degree that we accidentally forget the other.

We stand this evening within the Easter Season—these 50 days every year when we celebrate the amazing truth of our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection in the flesh. (more…)

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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…)

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…)

Uniting heaven and earth

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8th in a series of short homilies on the Mass

When we come to Mass, where are we? And who is with us? This would seem like an obvious answer, right? We are in Bethesda; and we can look around to see the others, all 15 of them. But it’s actually not that simple.

In this series of homilies, we have considered how Jesus Christ is the great, eternal high priest, bringing God and man together in a way that no one else ever could; and how he offered himself as the one perfect sacrifice, infinitely pleasing to the Father. Because of who he is—true God and true man—and because of what he is doing—saving the entire cosmos—his act of sacrifice, which certainly occurred at a particular time and place, nevertheless resides outside of time; and it is accessible from all times and all places. (more…)

To run forth to meet our Lord Jesus at his coming

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1st Sunday of Advent, Year B: Nov. 27, 2011
Isa 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7; Ps 80; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Each year, for many people, the week of Thanksgiving brings many periods of watchful expectation. For these days include journeys, arrivals, and wonderful events that follow at the destination. How many children in how many cars will ask, “Are we there yet??” Well, that’s one kind of expectation! But perhaps we do better to think of the child inside the house looking out the front window and asking, “When will Grandma and Grandpa get here? Or my aunt or uncle? My cousins?”

And what is it that fills the hours and days before their arrival? (more…)

“Give me oil in my lamp”: Looking toward death, judgment, and the Resurrection

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: Nov. 6, 2011
Wis 6:12-16; Ps 63; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Matt 25:1-13

This past week has presented us with several opportunities to think about the end of this earthly life, and what comes next.

  • On Monday evening, Halloween, we saw ghosts and skeletons walking down our streets, vampires and zombies coming up the walk, angels and little devils ringing our doorbells!
  • On Tuesday, All Saints, we gathered at Mass to celebrate all the holy men and women who have gone before us to reach the glory of heaven.
  • And on Wednesday, All Souls, we prayed for the repose of the souls of those undergoing their final purification in purgatory in preparation for their heavenly reward.

So it has been a good week for questions. (more…)

All Saints: So great a cloud of witnesses

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All Saints: Nov. 1, 2011
Rev 7:2-4, 9-14; Ps 24; 1 John 3:1-3; Matt 5:1-12

Actors have televised award ceremonies, like the Oscars. Athletes have championship trophies and rings. Soldiers have ranks and medals. Journalists have the Pulitzer; scientists have the Nobel. Mothers have Mother’s Day. Employees have… Employee of the Month awards. All of these are ways of publicly giving honor and expressing gratitude for a job well-done—and to encourage others to do the same job and so to hope to achieve that honor as well.

Today is the day that we honor All the Saints.

On other days, we focus in on one saint or a group of saints. So, in the past month, we remembered (more…)

El Señor te invita a su banquete: ¿Vendrás?

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XXVIII Domingo Ordinario, Año A: 9 Octubre 2011
Is 25, 6-10; Sal 22; Flp 4, 12-14.19-20; Mt 22, 1-14

El Reino de los Cielos se parece a un rey que nos invita a un gran banquete—el banquete nupcial de su Hijo. ¡Qué maravilloso! ¿A quién no le gusta un banquete nupcial?—una ocasión de mucho gozo, y la promesa del futuro, y la presencia amable de amigos y de la familia, y muy buena comida y bebida. Como dice la primera lectura: un banquete de manjares suculentos, un banquete de vinos añejados, de manjares suculentos, medulosos, de vinos añejados, decantados.

Y esto es lo que ofrece Dios Padre a todo el mundo. (more…)

Ascension of the Lord: Where did he go, and why?

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Ascension of the Lord, Year A: June 5, 2011
Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47; Eph 1:17-23; Matt 28:16-20

We heard St. Paul write: May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened. And that is a good prayer on this day when we celebrate our Lord’s ascension. For it is sometimes said that we Western Christians—in comparison to our brethren who are Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholics—have a very impoverished understanding of what Christ’s Ascension means. In a sense, we react almost like a small child, who pouts and says, “Why did Jesus have to leave!”—without seeking to understand where he has gone and why. Or, it has been said, that we, in effect, banish him to the past, almost as if we are sealing him back in the tomb; as if he has no effect upon our lives but is simply someone locked in the past, no longer alive in the present. (more…)