Tiny fingers and toes. A little yawn. A loud cry. An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. "What will this child be?" It is a question every parent asks time and time again. As first steps are taken, as personalities emerge, as a child shows interest in reading or drawing or climbing, the question is on our lips. "What will this child be?" This question is asked as John the Baptist is born. Will he be a priest like his father? Does his strange, unexpected name signal a departure from that inheritance? Could Elizabeth and Zechariah ever have predicted what would be?READ MORE
"This is how it is with the kingdom of God." What is a kingdom? Is it the brick and mortar that build up the castle? Is it the expanse of land a king can reasonably defend? Our notions of kingdoms may be romanticized in the modern era, but for the Israelites, a kingdom held deep historical meaning. Thousands of years before the birth of Christ, the Israelites had asked God for a king. After the reigns of David and Solomon, the united kingdom dissolved into factions, and the land was conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and, finally, Romans. For the Israelites, a kingdom was something to build, both structurally and civilly. While this had ended in ruin for their ancestors, many of Jesus' contemporaries longed for the restoration of an earthly kingdom.READ MORE
Have you ever felt judged by your family? St. John Paul II noted that the family "is the cradle of life and love" (On the Lay Members of Christ's Faithful, 40). Yet unmet expectations and divergent priorities can cause tension in even the most loving family situations. This is true for us, and it was true for Jesus!READ MORE
In our modern times, symbols can seem to have lost its value. The most recognizable "signs" are ones we see on the road or the branding in advertisements. The logos for major companies don't do much more than perk our interest or disdain. They surely don't deliver on their promises for our lives to be happier, healthier, and easier.
On this feast of Corpus Christi, we hear the account of the Last Supper. This was Passover, an ancient sign of the covenant of Moses. The Hebrew people celebrated God's providential care for His people. To the listening disciples, Jesus makes a very bold claim. "This is my blood of the covenant." At the time of the first Passover -- the redemption of the Hebrew people from slavery to the Egyptians -- the blood of the sacrificial lamb was spread on the lintels of the doorpost. Tomorrow, some of the disciples would witness the blood of the new covenant spread across the wood of the cross.READ MORE
Happy Trinity Sunday! In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus declare together all three Persons of the Trinity. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Made in the image and likeness of God, we are called to imitate God's immanence by giving and receiving love with one another in community. However, this is not limited only to those close to us, though that's where love often starts. We also imitate the economy of God when we go out, when we extend our love and care in a life-giving way. "Go therefore?" Every believer is sent on mission. Every believer is invited to follow Jesus and the Apostles "to the nations," to the margins, to the people who require a little extra reach. This could be a distant relative, the residents of your local homeless shelter or even the forgotten neighbor next door! When we love well, we create something beautiful-a relationship, a holy moment, a foretaste of heaven.READ MORE
As one of the most important solemnities on the Church's calendar, it has a rich depth of meaning, but here is how Pope Benedict summarized it in 2012:
This Solemnity makes us remember and relive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the other disciples gathered in prayer with the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room (cf. Acts 2:1-11). Jesus, risen and ascended into Heaven, sent his Spirit to the Church so that every Christian might participate in his own divine life and become his valid witness in the world. The Holy Spirit, breaking into history, defeats aridity, opens hearts to hope, stimulates and fosters in us an interior maturity in our relationship with God and with our neighbor.READ MORE
This Sunday's Gospel is known as the "priestly prayer" of Jesus. The entire passage is Jesus entrusting us to the Father. "When I was with them I protected them ? I guarded them," Jesus says. He asks his Father, "Keep them in your name." In this prayer of Jesus, we see the paradoxical tension of our life as Christians in the world. He anticipates struggle for the believer. He describes it in strong words, words that could even appear frightening to the believer. "I gave them your word, and the world hated them." Not only that, but with our eyes on eternal life, we "do not belong to the world." And yet in the midst of those realities, Jesus doesn't take us out of the world. On the contrary, "as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world."READ MORE
"I have called you friends." Authentic friendship can seem hard to come by these days, especially in our transient society. We move away from family, change jobs, switch parishes, and end up in entirely new places with entirely new people. When we look for new friends, we all have different qualities we're looking for. While we may think of certain standards of behavior necessary to be a "good" friend, we would hardly refer to them as rules or "commandments."READ MORE
Are you ready for a trim? In today's Gospel, we hear the familiar teaching of the vine and the branches. Jesus reminds us that if we remain close to him-living in humility, following God's law, loving our neighbor-we will notice a positive change in our life and the lives of those around us.READ MORE
Today's Gospel occurs in the middle of Jesus' ministry. At first, Jesus' words seem to be about the value of self-sacrifice in a leader. "I am the Good Shepherd. I will lay down my life for the sheep." The Apostles likely would have accepted these words easily enough. But then comes something more strange. "I lay down my life in order to take it up again. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again." Only later, when Jesus opened the Scriptures to them after his resurrection, would the Apostles understand his words. Only then would they understand why such an act was necessary for the salvation of the world.READ MORE
"Why do questions arise in your hearts?" After the Resurrection, the Apostles experienced their fair share of incredulity. Jesus had died-John had been there-and now the tomb was empty. What should they believe? Was the Jesus before them truly real? And who was Jesus really? It's no surprise that the Apostles were initially "startled and terrified" to the extent that they "thought that they were seeing a ghost." Jesus has compassion on his confused friends. Once he affirms his non-ghostly identity--"look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself"--Jesus gets down to business.READ MORE
The first light of Easter dawn had begun to creep over the horizon. The steadfast women from Friday's gory events are returning again to the body of their Lord. "Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" How quickly we return to mundane concerns and how thoroughly God wants to surprise us! Imagine the utter shock upon seeing the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and a stranger clothed in light proclaiming the impossible. "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here." He is risen indeed and the world will never be the same.READ MORE