The 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Isaiah 66:18-21  +  Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13  +  Luke 13:22-30
August 21, 2016

“God treats you as sons.”

I’m sure during the course of growing up that I gave my sisters many reasons to call me a “nerd”, but one of them had to do with the start of school.  For those of you who don’t have school-age children, you’ve surely noticed that the start of school is upon us by the bright, smiling faces seen this past week on the faces of youngsters when you pass them on the sidewalk.  Our young people are tired of staying up late at the lake, or watching movies.  They cannot wait to hit the books once again:  to be filled with the knowledge and virtues that will make them upstanding citizens in our fine nation.  Or maybe not.

When I was growing up, my sisters just shook their heads at me when—every August—I begged our mother to go shopping for school supplies.  Each year as summer wound down, I would walk up to our grade school every morning, hoping that that would be the day that classroom assignments would be posted in the window telling who my teacher would be.  One year when I got home from this walk and announced with enthusiasm who my new teacher was, one of my sisters asked our mother if I was adopted. Continue reading

The Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10  +  Hebrews 12:1-4  +  Luke 12:49-53
August 14, 2016

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin….”

Those words remind me of growing up with two older sisters.  If I ever did something wrong, I was immediately “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” who reported to Mother every burden and sin of mine.  But having two “deputy mothers” wasn’t the only challenge connected with my sisters.  Another came to mind recently as I heard some children talking about the start of school.

When I was a boy and a new school year would start, I would have the same experience.  My teacher would ask my name, and when I told her, without fail the teacher would say, “Oh!  You’re Angie and Janelle’s little brother!” Continue reading

The 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Wis 18:6-9  +  Heb 11:1-2,8-19  +  Lk 12:32-48
August 7, 2016

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much….”

When Jesus says these words about us, two questions immediately pop up.  And they’re intertwined.  First, what has Jesus entrusted us with?  Second, what therefore will be required of us?

Each of us, naturally, has been given the gift of life.  You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that says, “Smile:  your mom chose life!”  In our day and age, this is not a gift that we ought to take for granted.  But still, when we thank God each day for the gift of life, what exactly are we giving thanks for? Continue reading

The 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23  +  Colossians 3:1-5,9-11  +  Luke 12:13-21
July 31, 2016

“[Y]ou have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

In 1998, while in my first assignment as a priest, I was invited to attend a conference in Oxford, England about Cardinal Newman.  Newman taught at Oxford as an Anglican priest, but during his years there he studied his way into the Catholic Church.  In later life, he said, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”

Since this would be my first trip to Europe, I decided to see as much as possible.  But when my plane landed in England, I did not head straight to Oxford.  The first site I visited wasn’t the great monastic Ealing Abbey, or the cell where St. Thomas More was imprisoned by Henry VIII.  Eventually I did visit all those sites, but not first. Continue reading

The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Genesis 18:20-32  +  Colossians 2:12-14  +  Luke 11:1-13
July 24, 2016

“What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”

When my younger brother and I were little, we got into a fight one day while playing football.  In the midst of this fight my two front teeth were chipped, and they still are today.  So I always think of brother whenever I brush or floss.  It’s odd:  the connections that stick in our minds.

But discord is part and parcel of life in this fallen world.  The great British writer G. K. Chesterton once said that Original Sin is the simplest Christian dogma to prove:  all you have to do is pick up the newspaper (or in our day, click on a news app…). Continue reading

The 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Genesis 18:1-10  +  Colossians 1:24-28  +  Luke 10:38-42
July 17, 2016

“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

 

Husbands, you probably will not be able to relate to this scenario, but stretch your imagination.  Imagine that you have put your foot in your mouth during an argument with your wife, and you are in the doghouse.  Actually, you have put both feet in your mouth, and the dog has kicked you out of the doghouse, you’ve messed up so bad.  Now maybe that’s never happened to you, but if not, let’s pretend I’m talking about “your brother”.

So “your brother” realizes he needs to mend the fences with his wife, and he decides to take her out to eat:  not to Spangles, but to one of those restaurants on the east side with cloth napkins.  That’s how bad your brother has messed things up. Continue reading

The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Deuteronomy 30:10-14  +  Colossians 1:15-20  +  Luke 10:25-37
July 10, 2016

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”

My father loves to tell stories, especially about his children.  One of his favorites concerns Angela, my oldest sibling.  On her very first day of school, her class was led to the cafeteria at lunch time, and the entrée was (this will tell you how long ago it was) the entrée was liver.  This did not please my six-year old sister at all, and she promptly explained to the cook:  “My dad doesn’t eat liver, and I don’t either!”

From what young parents have told me over the years, the chore of getting children to eat healthful foods is among the more exasperating that they face.  Parents might try different strategies:  for example, they might try the percentage strategy, where if the child eats seventy-five percent of his spinach, he gets released from the dinner table for good behavior. Continue reading

The 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Isaiah 66:10-14  +  Galatians 6:14-18  +  Luke 10:1-9
July 3, 2016

“…do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you….”

Father Sam may have explained that one of the reasons I’m residing at Aleppo is because my chief assignment is Chaplain for the IHM Sisters, who last year moved into their new convent two miles south of Colwich.  It’s a much shorter drive to the convent than the drive I had this past year.  But a happy consequence of residing at Aleppo is serving in the two parishes where my classmate, Father Sam, is pastor. Continue reading

The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
I Kings 19:16,19-21  +  Galatians 5:1,13-18  +  Luke 9:51-62
June 26, 2016

“He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem….”

All over the Wichita Diocese, many priests this past week were “on the road again”, to use the words of Willie Nelson, moving to new residences and taking up new assignments within the diocese.  However, while Mr. Nelson just couldn’t wait to get on the road again, most of our priests had mixed feelings about uprooting themselves and beginning again in a new part of the diocese.  Those mixed feelings come from, on the one hand, wanting to be faithful to the bishop’s plan for the diocese, and knowing from experience that change brings blessings eventually.  On the other hand, change is difficult, and the longer a priest had been in his previous assignment, the harder it is to leave.

We priests should count our blessings, though.  In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains to a would-be disciple that “‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head.’”  Most rectories, by contrast, have not only very fine mattresses, but pretty good recliners, as well (for mid-afternoon meditation)! Continue reading

Thursday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time [II]
Sirach 48:1-14  +  Matthew 6:7-15
June 16, 2016

“…all gods are prostrate before Him.” [Psalm 97:7]

In the modern culture that surrounds us, the word “prostrate” has many negative connotations.  By contrast, within Catholic culture during the rite of ordination the ordinand lays prostrate on the ground.  He re-lives this ritual action every year on Good Friday, when at the beginning of the service he makes the same action.

Of course, there is at least one significant difference between those two acts of prostration within the Sacred Liturgy.  The Good Friday service commences in silence, and we might compare that silence to the silence in Garden of Gethsemani, as Jesus looked forward to what was about to happen to Him, similar to how the priest laying on the ground is mindful of the rites that will transpire throughout the course of the service, liturgically making present the sacred mysteries of Jesus’ Passion and Death. Continue reading