Neither condoning nor condemning: encounter Christ’s mercy and be transformed

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5th Sunday of Lent, Year C: March 13, 2016
Readings (more…)

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…)

Hipócritas hambrientos y Halloween

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XXX Domingo Ordinario, Año C: 27 Octubre 2013
Sir 35, 15-17; Sal 33; 2 Tim 4, 6-8.16-18; Lc 18, 9-14

En pocos días, este jueves por la noche, ¡las calles se llenarán de hipócritas! Un montón de pequeños hipócritas—y tal vez algunos más grandes también.

Puede parecer extraño llamarlos hipócritas, cuando esa no es la manera normal en la cual usamos la palabra. Pero no es incorrecta, cuando pensamos en como la palabra viene directamente del griego hypocritēs, que originalmente significó “actor de teatro.” Porque los actores se hicieron pasar por otra persona—usando ropa diferente, a veces hablando a través de una máscara—y de allí también tomó la palabra el sentido que utilizamos hoy en día.

¡Y todos los hipócritas vagando nuestras calles serán extrañamente hambrientos! (more…)

Hungry hypocrites on Halloween

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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C: Oct. 27, 2013
Sir 35:12-14, 16-18; Ps 34; 2 Tim 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

In just a few days, this Thursday evening, the streets will be filled with hypocrites! Lots of little hypocrites—and maybe some bigger ones too.

It might seem strange to call them hypocrites, when that isn’t how we normally use the word! But it isn’t inaccurate, when we think of where the word comes from, directly from the Greek hypocritēs, which originally meant “stage-actor.” For those actors pretended to be someone else—wearing different clothes, sometimes speaking through a mask—and from there the word also took on the meaning that we use today.

And the hypocrites roaming our streets will all be strangely hungry! (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…)

No dejes que nadie impida que vengas a Cristo

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VII Domingo Ordinario, Año B: 19 Febrero 2012
Isa 43, 18-19.21-22.24-25; Sal 40; 2 Cor 1, 18-22; Mc 2, 1-12

Esta historia del Evangelio es una que podemos recordar e imaginar fácilmente. Nuestro Señor está en casa, rodeado por mucha gente; el techo se abre; un hombre paralítico se baja en una camilla; Jesús lo perdona; él y los escribas discuten; y entonces sana la parálisis del hombre, y él se levanta y sale andando. ¡Maravilloso!

Pero lo que noto hoy es un detalle del principio de la cuenta. “Se juntaron muchos, de manera que ya no había sitio frente a la puerta.” Por eso, los cuatro llevando al paralítico no podían acercarse a Jesús por la cantidad de gente. (more…)

Don’t let anyone keep you from Christ

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7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Feb. 19, 2012
Isa 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25; Ps 41; 1 Cor 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12

This is one of the vivid stories in the Gospels. Jesus is at home, surrounded by a crowd; the roof opens up; a paralyzed man is lowered down on a mat; Jesus forgives his sins; he has a moment of dispute with the scribes present; and then he heals the man’s paralysis, and he gets up and walks away. Amazing!

But what catches my attention is right as the story is opening. “Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door.” It’s sort of like one of those sayings attributed to Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” And so the four men were unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd. (more…)

Not only to say “Lord, Lord” but to do the will of the Father

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9th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: March 6, 2011
Deut 11:18, 26-28; 32; Ps 31; Rom 3:21-25, 28; Matt 7:21-27

If this were a homily that I was giving just to Kindergarteners and 1st-graders—which happens occasionally—I might ask them: “Have you ever seen anybody who, when their parents tell them to do something, say, ‘Yes, Mommy! Yes, Daddy!’—and then does something else instead!” If I asked them to raise their hands if they had seen this, lots of hands would go up. Maybe they’ve even done it themselves.

And middle-schoolers would know what it is for someone to put on different masks; to act one way here and another way over here.

And we adults know how to raise that to an art form. (more…)

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Would a federal investigation find you are really Catholic?

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5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A: Feb. 6, 2011
Isa 58:7-10; Ps 112; 1 Cor 2:1-5; Matt 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?”

I think the meaning of this phrase is well illustrated by something that happened last month. A government agency told a Catholic college, in effect: “You aren’t Catholic enough.” That’s rather strange, isn’t it? Not something that we expect government agencies to do. So let’s take a look at this to see what was going on. (more…)