In Christianity, we hear often about the "Good News." We might often associate it with Jesus' compassion to the poor, his healings and miracles, and the salvation he won for us. In today's Gospel, we read of John the Baptist. "Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people." Yet as we examine the rest of the reading, we see examples of John's preaching. If you have two cloaks, give one away. Don't cheat others out of their money, extort, or lie. And, of course, the warning that the Messiah is on the move and "his winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Merry Christmas?READ MORE
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar...and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee...and Lysanias was tetrach of..." Did you need to pinch yourself awake during the first few lines of this Sunday's Gospel? John the Baptist received quite a prelude today as Luke described the religious and political leadership of the time period. Scripture is divinely inspired, and we believe that everything that made it into the Bible is there for a reason. These lines remind us of an important truth. The Christmas story isn't a fairy tale or nursery rhyme. It's not a parable we say to give meaning to the holiday. At Christmas, God's presence is made tangible in a precise moment in time. The birth of Christ is a historical event. As precursor to Jesus' preaching, the ministry of John the Baptist is also a historical event.READ MORE
If you brought your child to the restroom during the Liturgy of the Word, you might walk away with one of two interpretations of Jesus as King. The first and second readings are bold and victorious. We see Christ coming on the clouds for the final judgment of heaven and earth. The Gospel sets a very different tone. Jesus is under arrest and facing death before Pontius Pilate. We know how this story will end. So if Christ is King, what does it mean? Is he a glorious conqueror or a suffering servant? "My kingdom does not belong to this world." Here is the heart of Jesus' reign. He is a king -- and his "subjects" are alive and well on earth -- but, ultimately, Jesus' kingdom transcends our earthly concepts of power. Jesus faced down the temptation of a solely earthly kingship. At the close of his 40 days in the desert, the devil offered him the kingdoms of the world. Jesus only had to sacrifice his heavenly values and worship Satan. The same temptations to distort the kingship of Christ are present to us today. Jesus' invitation also endures. "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." It is important for us to belong to the full truth of Christ's kingdom. First, our own hearts must be transformed. Our own rebellions in favor of selfishness and against holiness must be conquered by God's grace. Second, we must work to transform the world as best we can in our own corner of it. Like Jesus shows us by his life and death, this doesn't mean domination. It means service, sacrifice, respect, and love. Our lives must "testify to the truth" of Jesus Christ, who lays down his life for his people. That is the true beauty of Christ the King!READ MORE
As we edge closer to the closing of the liturgical year, the Church selects readings that remind us of the final close: the second coming of Christ. It's easy, perhaps, to forget that this is a dogma of our Catholic faith. We see this dramatic end times language in today's Gospel. "The sun will be darkened ... and the stars will be falling from the sky."
As Christians and as human beings, we know all things will come to an end. " But of that day or hour, no one knows." The "end of the world" and end of time at Jesus' coming is in a future unknown. But God has given us beautiful reminders of this truth. We see the signs and symbols of ending all around us -- nightfall at the end of each day; the life cycle of crops coming alive, bearing fruit, and being harvested; our own death. That, too, will come at an unknown day and hour. But that is the way of things. Even as God created in Genesis, He gave us a sense of time -- the sun rising and setting, a beginning and an end -- to mark our days.READ MORE
The main problem we face in the Church today is cover-up by members of the hierarchy of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy. We have, in addition, not had an adequate system of accountability in place for bishops who have offended, i.e. for those bishops who have sexually abused children and/or sexually harassed adults.
The ability to adequately correct misconduct by bishops and cardinals is aggravated by the lack of anything in place at the present time to address this grave scandal in an effective and thorough way. Effective ways are needed to face squarely the years of cover-up of these atrocities by bishops and members of the Holy See in Rome. To put these in place, we bishops need to do what we can in our own dioceses, and then at the level of each national conference: we also need the leadership and close collaboration of the Holy Father.READ MORE
Prayer for Faithful Citizenship
Gracious and loving God, let your Spirit be with us today.
Hear our prayers, and increase in us the will to follow your Son Jesus.
Help us to draw on the resources of our faith as we use the opportunities of our democracy to shape a society more respectful of the life, dignity, and rights of the human person, especially the poor and vulnerable.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.READ MORE