“‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”
Saint Paul, in writing to the Romans about their baptism, equates baptism with death. He rhetorically asks them, “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” This is a rhetorical question because the Roman Christians are not unaware of this truth. Yet Paul needs to ask it because the choices of their lives don’t reflect this truth. In other words, they’ve not been practicing what Paul’s been preaching.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus addresses a similar discrepancy. His words might seem harsh, but in fact they’re very loving. The seeming harshness comes from the fact that His words are literally radical: they go to the root of practicing the Christian Faith, which is death to self.
Jesus is putting everything—or rather, everyone—in his place. From the place of one’s father and mother in one’s life, to the place of one’s son and daughter, to the place of oneself in one’s own life, Jesus insists that He must be put first. Continue reading →
“‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.’”
Many blessings have come from the new English translation of the Roman Missal that the Church began to use in 2011. One such blessing that comes from greater fidelity to the Latin original is the transparency with which Scripture quotations appear. Continue reading →
“When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.”
After Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount, today’s Gospel passage might seem meager. What is the focus of this brief passage? Is it the healing itself? Jesus’ divine power? The leper’s faith before the miracle occurs, or Jesus’ instructions following the miracle? Continue reading →
“‘I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.’”
Peter, whom Jesus in today’s Gospel passage entrusts with the care of His Church, was very different than Paul. Peter’s personality was rough and impatient. He was poor and uneducated. Now if Jesus had thought as worldly people do, he never would have chosen Peter as the first pope. Instead, he would have chosen someone like Paul: refined and educated. Continue reading →
Twice in today’s Gospel passage Jesus uses this phrase: “By their fruits you will know them.” Jesus is speaking here about “bad fruit”, by which one can know false prophets. In our own day, part of the scandal that members of the Church—laity and clergy alike—face is that considerable “bad fruit” has been borne by bishops and priests of the Church that Jesus founded. How can one reconcile that such men who are validly ordained seem by their fruits to be false prophets? Continue reading →
“‘How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.’”
Coming to the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, today we hear Him offer several brief proverbs. It would be difficult to thread them all with a common theme. We could take any one of them and, brief as it is, commit it to memory and recite it throughout this day for reflection. Continue reading →
The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] Jer 20:10-13 + Rom 5:12-15 + Mt 10:26-33 June 25, 2017
“Because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.”
What a glorious day yesterday was in the life of our diocesan family, our parish family, and the Stuhlsatz family. Late last evening, as I looked once again through the program for the Mass of Sister Mary Lucia’s Solemn Profession, I was struck by the nuptial imagery of the prayer and rituals. There are several programs at the back of the church, and I welcome you to take one home and reflect on these prayers and rituals. They so beautifully illustrate how the Solemn Profession for a consecrated religious is a wedding: a wedding of her life to that of her spouse, her husband, Jesus Christ.
Of course, Perry and Janet know all about daughters getting married. But as beautiful as the weddings of their other daughters were, I doubt that any of them matched yesterday’s Mass of Solemn Profession. Likewise, although Perry and Janet’s older daughters chose their husbands wisely, none of those husbands can compare with Sister Mary Lucia’s spouse. So, I’m sorry to break this to you, Kevin, but you’re no longer Perry and Janet’s favorite son-in-law (but you’re still in the running for #2)!
Nonetheless, the fact that a consecrated religious has Jesus for her spouse does not mean that her life is easy. On the contrary, she’s called to share fully in Jesus Christ’s life, including the fullness of his Passion and Death. I’m not just talking about teaching teenagers, although surely that demands at times a death-to-self. Continue reading →
“‘The measure with which you measure will be used to measure you.’”
Pondering the mystery of Christ, we find that God calls us to imitate Christ in our moral lives along the same line that we accept Christ: first, in humble faith; then, with a burning desire to extend God’s love to those beyond our immediate reach. Thus in the Ten Commandments we are called to serve both God and neighbor. The first three command us to love God completely, above all others; the last seven command us to serve our neighbor as we love God. Continue reading →
“‘What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.’”
Martyrdom can take many forms, and can have many victims. Often, the truth is martyred. But more often throughout the Church’s history, members of the Church have accepted martyrdom in witness to the truth.
Yet people can be martyred in different ways. The martyrdom of the first centuries of the Church was a clear one. It was a distinct sign of willingness to suffer for the sake of the truth.
In our day, God at times asks us to endure a different form of martyrdom. He asks faithful Catholics, the members of His Church, to stand on guard constantly, not knowing when truth is going to be attacked. Have you ever been surprised by something you suddenly came across in the newspaper, or on television, where someone is taking the truth and twisting it? Have you ever heard the topic of the Church brought up in conversation, only to be dismissed with laughs and sneers? Continue reading →
“The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.”
When the Church celebrates the feast day of a saint, we are usually celebrating the day of the saint’s death. You might call this the saint’s “supernatural birthday”: the day on which he or she set out for Heaven. But the Church also celebrates the natural birthdays of three persons: Christ Jesus, of course, on the feast we call Christmas; the Blessed Virgin Mary, on September 8th, nine months after the feast of her Immaculate Conception; and Saint John the Baptist, on this day which falls sixth months before Christmas eve.
Considering this celebration of St. John’s birth, we see more clearly the relationship between John and his cousin Jesus. Their relationship is an intimate one, and yet also one of strong contrasts. In the same way, by celebrating the birth of Saint John we see more clearly what our own relationships with Our Lord are to be like.
John and Jesus were cousins by nature. Each one of us is a brother or sister of Jesus by our supernatural baptism into the Paschal Mystery. John and Jesus each had a message to proclaim to others. We are obligated to listen to each of these messages, and to follow each. St. Augustine of Hippo comments on today’s Gospel passage in saying that: Continue reading →