How Long?

Today someone asked me, referring to the recent events of Charlottesville and the WH response, “How long will this last?” It is a question that continues.

On March 25, 1965, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a crowd of 25,000 marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of voting rights for African-Americans. At the conclusion of the march, King delivered this speech, familiarly referred to as “How Long, Not Long.” The speech was defiant at times, referencing the violence that beset the movement at the time. In fact, a previous march on March 7 was met with a violent response from state troopers who beat and gassed marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. King’s speech makes it clear that the movement cannot be dissuaded after coming so far, encouraging the people to keep up the struggle. Continue reading

The Others: crossing over

Rahib_CanaaniteWomanA Framework to Understand Jesus’ Response. It is believed that the etymology of “Hebrew” comes from the Semitic root ‘apiru, which refers to those who cross over. It is an apt description when one considers the journeys of Abraham and Sarah, the travels of Jacob/Israel and his 12 sons, and the Exodus of the Jews to Israel – a narrative history of people who were “other” and yet willing to “cross over” because of the call of God. And paradoxically, the disciples are not willing to “cross over” to console this woman who is “other.” Continue reading

Choosing Hope

As we start another week, there is a lot going on that will bring us face-to-face with the choice between hope and despair. This past weekend’s events in Charlottesville only highlights an encounter with another choice. Despair by far is the easiest choice. A little over 150 years ago, a civil war ended in our nation, and the hope was that we would be a nation dedicated to the self-evident proposition and truth “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” A little over 70 year ago, men and women of the “greatest generation” arose from the ashes of a world-wide depression, went to work and war, to defeat the Nazi regime that was dedicated to their proposition that not all are created equal, not all are entitles to life, liberty or happiness. Continue reading

The Assumption of Mary

Much of our religious consciousness is affected by art; we have inherited specific images that are more artistic than biblical.  For example, we always imagine St. Paul being knocked from a horse on the Damascus Road.  There is no mention of the horse in scripture.  Is that a bid deal? Perhaps not.  But when Caravaggio placed Paul on the horse, a sign of privilege or royalty, he removed Paul from the midst of Corinth, the hard-scrabbled sea port town, from among the drunks, slackards, ner-do-wells, and people who sorely needed salvation. Continue reading

The Others: why would they?

canaanitewoman.iconCommentary. At its core this narrative remains a miracle-story – And her daughter was healed from that hour. But as the encounter is placed immediately after a discussion of purity in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ encounter with this Gentile woman also brings out the implications that the Gentiles will no longer be separated from Israel (cf. Acts 10:15, 28; 11:9–18). Continue reading

Between homilies…

In general, I enjoy the process of preparing a homily. I love Scripture and a large part of the preparation has to be to, again, dive into the text to connect it to the lives of those who will hear it. As “Fulfilled in Your Hearing” (US Bishops) notes: the purpose of a homily is the shine the light of the Gospel into the lives of the hearers. It is a noble purpose, but, alas, a human endeavor. Continue reading

The Others: a context

canaanite-womanMatthew 15:21-28 21 Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23 But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” 24 He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” 28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Between the 19th and 20th Sundays in Year A, Mt 15:1-21 are passed over. In order to provide a context let us briefly describe the events which leads us to Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman. Continue reading

Promise and Hope

This gospel is pretty well-known. Here at Sacred Heart we have an entire stained-glass window depicting the scene. Every children’s bible story book seems to have the story with all manner of illustrations. There is a lot you can do with this simple gospel account. In my day, I have heard sermons that encourage us to “go outside the box” by asking us to be like Peter and be bold enough to “get out of the boat.”  The message was to take risks as individuals of faith or perhaps as a parish. Other sermons have told us to “keep our eyes on Jesus” in all that we do – good advice – with the message often an invitation to a particular piety and devotion – also good advice.  And there is something to said about the boat itself. It is a place of relative calm among the waves. It is the place where Jesus leads Peter. It is the place where the community, as the gospel says, “did him homage, saying, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’”  There is a lot you can preach about, inspired by this gospel. Continue reading

Back in the Boat

AgnusDay Mt 14v22-1

Back in the Boat. There are many commentaries and sermons on the web that proclaim “get out of the boat!” One, somewhat cleverly, referred to the great danger that Christians are just at Sunday worship and become “boat potatoes” never taking faith outside the walls of the church. I did not find any that talked about being “back in the boat.” As mentioned a few days ago, we should be mindful that each Sunday we sit in the “nave” of the church, a word whose origins come from the Latin navis which means “boat” or “ship.” We have already considered a range of reason why Peter would have gotten out of the boat and stepped in to the chaos of the storm. It is that vein that people encourage “boat potatoes” to go over the sides, into the storm, where people need to be rescued. Continue reading