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…)

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La Luz del Mundo viene al Templo

Sólo audio: Escucha mp3 (Largo: 11:05)
Presentación del Señor: 2 Febrero 2014
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The Light of the World comes to the Temple

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The Presentation of the Lord: Feb. 2, 2014
Mal 3:1-4; Ps 24; Heb 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

The feast of the Presentation that we celebrate today has traditionally been the conclusion of the Church’s Christmas season. Indeed, it was only about 5 years ago that the Vatican began taking down its Christmas decorations before today! And so today we return to the theme of Christ as the Light of the World.

  • 40 days ago, at the Midnight Mass on Christmas, we heard from the Prophet Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (more…)

Keeping Jesus’ word, from Old Law to New Law

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6th Sunday of Easter, Year C: May 5, 2013
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Ps 67; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29

We hear our Lord Jesus say in today’s Gospel reading: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” What beautiful words! We want that kind of peace so much. In fact, the whole world wants that kind of peace. And our Lord Jesus offers it.

But we also hear him say: “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” Now that’s different, isn’t it? It’s one thing to offer peace; it’s another thing to require obedience. (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…)