Jesus asks the impossible—and then enables us to do it

Audio only: Listen to mp3 file (Length: 13:12)
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C: June 26, 2016
Readings (more…)

Not to dominate, but to give life

Listen to mp3 file (12:47)
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 18, 2015
Isa 53:10-11; Ps 33; Heb 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

What do you truly need? And what does the world really need? These questions seem to be implicit in Jesus’ question to James and John—“What do you wish me to do for you?”—and in their response, their belief about what they and the world really need. Which is: for them to be in charge.

St. Mark relates to us that this conversation takes place as Jesus and his disciples are making a journey to Jerusalem and getting close to their destination. (more…)

Disciples, all the way to the roots

Audio only: Listen to mp3 file (Length: 12:50)
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 20, 2015
Readings (more…)

In spite of suffering, I have not turned back

Listen to mp3 file
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 13, 2015
Isa 50:5-9; Ps 116; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

Our Lord Jesus, in today’s Gospel reading, poses a question to his disciples that is very important: “Who do you say that I am?” “I, Jesus of Nazareth, who you have been following—who am I?” And when we find the true answer to that question, we find that, in a way, it is the central question we have to answer, because so much else follows from who he is. (more…)

Step out in joy and freedom

Listen to mp3 file
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 6, 2015
Isa 35:4-7; Ps 146; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37

In about two weeks, our Holy Father Pope Francis is going to arrive here in the U.S.—indeed, here in the Washington, D.C., area—to visit us. We know that he has gained a great deal of attention by many people since he was elected as Pope, and that many people find him a fascinating and attractive person. One of the aspects for which Pope Francis is famous is his concern for the poor, and his readiness to reach out and embrace people who are poor or who live with difficult physical or life circumstances.

And surely we can imagine Pope Francis giving us the same admonition that we heard from St. James in our second reading today. (more…)

Jesus asks: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Listen to mp3 file
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 28, 2012
Jer 31:7-9; Ps 126; Heb 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight. And the first thing he saw was Jesus: the eyes of Jesus, shining with power and love and healing; the eyes of the one who had given him his sight. And he followed Jesus on the way.

Jesus is famous for asking questions. Some years ago, the Jesuit Father John Dear began to write down every question Jesus ever asked in the Gospels—and he got to 307 questions, not even counting the questions that are contained in Jesus’ parables (see his book The Questions of Jesus). And one of Jesus’ most provocative questions is the one that he asks Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel reading: “What do you want me to do for you?” (more…)

Jesus isn’t asking for your vote: He is pouring out his life for you, in mercy and grace

Listen to mp3 file
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Oct. 21, 2012
Isa 53:10-11; Ps 33; Heb 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

  • Five weeks ago, we heard the first time in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus told his disciples about his coming Passion (8:31). Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah; and then, after Jesus tells them that he will suffer and die and rise again, Peter begins to rebuke him.
  • Four weeks ago, we heard the second time that he told them about his Passion (9:31). That time, they were too afraid to ask him any questions, but instead took to discussing among themselves who was the greatest.
  • And in our Gospel reading today, Jesus has just predicted his Passion a third time, in greater detail than before. And how do they respond? James and John come to him and ask him for a favor: that in his glory they might sit one at his right and the other at his left.

They don’t seem to be getting the message! (more…)

Walking with Jesus in consistency and hope

Listen to mp3 file
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Sept. 23, 2012
Wis 2:12, 17-20; Ps 54; James 3:16–4:3; Mark 9:30-37

This is embarrassing! These disciples of Jesus: they follow him, travel with him, see everything he does, hear everything he says. They do so because they have been so impressed by him and want to learn from his teaching and follow his way. And yet, look at them in this reading! They don’t understand what he tells them about his coming death and resurrection, and yet they are afraid to ask him to explain it. And on their journey they are arguing about which of them is the greatest—which is so very foreign to everything that Jesus is about.

How is this possible? How can the disciples believe in him and love him and follow him and listen to him—and yet seemingly be walking a completely different path from him? (more…)

¿Qué entra en y mancha el corazón?

Eschucha mp3
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…)