The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] Isa 49:14-15 + 1 Cor 4:1-5 + Mt 6:24-34 February 26, 2017
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
Once they have read them, my parents give me their copies of a national newspaper that they subscribe to. Last weekend’s edition had a feature article about what the author describes as a “burgeoning movement among traditional Christians” in modern America. The article gives several examples of those who, “[f]eeling besieged by secular society, … are taking refuge in communities… clustered around churches and monasteries, where faith forms the backbone of daily life.”
Most of the article focuses upon one such community, hidden within the wooded hills of eastern Oklahoma. This community, consisting of “dozens of families” who moved there from across the United States, have built homes around a Benedictine monastery whose first members only arrived in the area eighteen years ago. Continue reading →
The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] Lev 19:1-2,17-18 + 1 Cor 3:16-23 + Mt 5:38-48 February 19, 2017
Perfectionism vs. Jesus’ call to be perfect
In a newspaper essay, a writer humorously bemoaned the fact that we Americans are bad at taking advice. The author, well past middle age and by his own admission not in great physical shape, gives several examples of his unwillingness to follow well-intentioned advice. For example, he writes: “My wife is always telling me that yoga will help relieve the pain in my lower back. She is almost certainly right. Yoga would probably be an immense help to my aching lower back. But I am never going to a yoga class.”
He gives another example in describing a neighbor’s visit to his home. He writes that this neighbor, while “inspecting the vast record and compact disc collection that takes up a large part of my living room… suggested that I load all my CDs onto a server to clear away the clutter. He also said that I should convert my LPs to MP3 files[,] and get wireless speakers installed in every room. I said thanks, those are really great suggestions. But I am never going to do any of this stuff.” Continue reading →
The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] Sir 15:15-20 + 1 Cor 2:6-10 + Mt 5:17-37 February 12, 2017
“Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden….”
1. IBM’s super-computer: intelligent, smart or wise?
Some years back, IBM challenged champions of the TV game show Jeopardy to match their wits against a computer—called “Watson”—that the company had programmed to play that game. Almost ten years earlier, an IBM computer called “Deep Blue” had beaten the world chess champion, and ever since, the company had been looking for another way to pit its computing power against human wits. When two Jeopardy matches were held, IBM’s Watson beat its two human competitors, winning one million dollars in the process.
Did this victory prove that computers are superior to human beings? Well, that depends on what skill it’s important in life to be superior at. Is it important to be able to recite pieces of trivia? Is it important to be able to ring a buzzer faster than others? Do these things matter to someone on his deathbed, as his life flashes before him? Continue reading →
The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] Isa 58:7-10 + 1 Cor 2:1-5 + Mt 5:13-16 February 5, 2017
“… your light shall break forth like the dawn….”
Two summers ago I crossed off one of the items on my “bucket list”. The goal that I accomplished that summer was to travel during the week that Summer starts up to Alaska: far enough north to spend 24 hours without it getting pitch black.
There’s something about light that’s simply divine, and I mean that literally. Painters and poets alike know this, and reveal this through their artistry. If you were to put, side-by-side, two Renaissance paintings—one of them of the three Persons of the Trinity in Heaven, and the other of satan and other fallen angels in hell—you could be sure that the painting of Heaven would be filled with brilliant hues of white and gold, and maybe just the lightest shade possible of blue, while the one of hell would feature lots of black and dark shades of red and brown. Likewise, when the Italian poet Dante describes the Inferno that is Hell, he verbally paints a dark portrait of the blindness that comes from the absence of God. On the other hand, Dante illuminates our understanding of the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven by illustrating in verse those words that we profess in the Creed: that God the Son is “light from light, true God from true God”. Continue reading →