The Divine Bridegroom, revealed!

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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C: January 17, 2016
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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…)

Matrimonio y familia hoy: la crisis, la vocación

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La Sagrada Familia, Año A: 29 Diciembre 2013
Sir 3, 2-6.12-14; Sal 127; Col 3, 12-17; Mt 2, 13-15.19-23 (more…)

Marriage and family today: the crisis, the calling

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Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Year A:
Dec. 29, 2013
Sir 3:2-6, 12-14; Ps 128; Col 3:12-17; Matt 2:13-15, 19-23

Three years ago, I had the privilege to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group of other priests. Of course, one of the places we went was Nazareth. There, we visited the large church called the Basilica of the Annunciation—marking the spot where the angel Gabriel visited Mary and invited her to become the Mother of God; where she said yes; and thus the very spot, marked, where the Word was made flesh.

But there on the same property is a smaller church, the Church of St. Joseph. It was there that we celebrated Mass. This church contains artwork not only of St. Joseph himself, but of the Holy Family: (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…)

Zacchaeus and freedom from pornography

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C: October 31, 2010
Wis 11:22–12:2; Ps 145; 2 Thess 1:11–2:2; Luke 19:1-10

I don’t think anyone would have dressed up as Zacchaeus for Halloween as their hero—if they had had Halloween in Jericho in the 1st century! Because Zacchaeus the tax collector was nobody’s hero.

Like the other tax collectors in the Holy Land in that century, he was seen as a traitor to his people because he was collecting taxes for the occupying Roman government; and he was seen as a sinner because of all the contact that he was regularly having with Gentiles. And, like many of the tax collectors of his time, he could use his position to extort payments from people to make himself rich; (more…)