Being Perfect

matthew-5_48“…be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect…” That seems like a tall order, trying to be perfect. And if you think of it as being without flaw, spot, or blemish, then you are correct. It is above our pay grade. But then again, “be perfect” does not seem like a suggestion. It appears it is a command from Jesus.

The word “perfect,” telios, is a Greek word which speaks of wholeness, a completeness, a certain end point, goal or destiny that is our calling. There is always a future element about it. “…be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our destiny, our divine calling – a project for this lifetime. A project that with the grace of God is ours to work towards, even if its fulfillment is in the life to come. Continue reading

Redemptive Anger

sermon-on-the-mountCommandments, rules, and laws – our readings offer a lot to think about. When I was 5 years old, I followed (mostly) the rule: “Don’t cross the street by yourself”, even as I wanted to explore the world across the road. When I was 25 years old, I understood that those rules were for my welfare, health, and protection.  There were also rules to shape me to be a good person: “You have to share your things with your friends.” Hopefully, when we are older we don’t think about those things, they are ingrained, and they are part of the good person we have become. Continue reading

Distinctive

This week our Franciscan Provincial Minister, Fr. Kevin Mullen OFM, is visiting the parish – and preaching at all the Masses (thank you, Fr. Kevin!!). Nonetheless, I thought it good to share some thoughts on our gospel reading…

Sacred Heart, Tampa - ready for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last week I wrote about the Sermon on the Mount, which contains the Beatitudes and is one of the great discourses in the Gospel according to Matthew.  I thought I would provide some more food for thought as our Sunday gospel continues with the Sermon on the Mount – better described as the Discourse of Discipleship. Continue reading

Recognizing Blessings

sermon-on-the-mountWho doesn’t know the opening words of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in which He gives us the Beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor…” I sometimes think that the powers-that-be should not have it in the Sunday cycle of readings. The text is so dense with meaning, so rich in teaching, and has been addressed by people far more capable than me. When this reading rolls around most years, I feel the onset of writer’s block, brain freeze, and the slow rise of that “oh-my-gosh-what-could-I-possibly-have-to-say-this-time.” This is when temptation is the greatest to borrow something from online or to dip into the files of sermons from years past.  But then my guardian angel tells me to suck it up and get to work. Oh well… maybe inspiration will come to those who need it…. Continue reading

Called to the Light

Calling disciplesCurrently, I am reading “The History of Florida” by Michael Gannon, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida. The book is a monographic sweep through Florida history from the pre-Columbian landscape, the settling by native peoples, the arrival of the first European explorers, the history of ethnicity and immigration, and to the changing landscape of life and people who form the great state we live in. So far I have also learned an amazing amount by the early Franciscan missionaries in Florida and Georgia in the 16th and 17th centuries. It put me in a “historical mindset” this week. Continue reading

Testify!

giving-testimonyWe are challenged – or we should be – when the prophet Isaiah tells us: “It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant…. I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” A servant can be present, silently present, taking it all in, but never part of the conversation.  Yes, we are called to be servants, but we are also called to be more. Called to moments in our lives, when the virtues already shine through, but we also called to testify.  Called to testify as did John the Baptist, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” And not in whispered voices, but loud and proud in the public square. We are called to testify!! Continue reading

Our North Star

ancient-navigation-toolsIn the beginning – the Garden of Paradise, all is pristine, pure, good, whole, and holy

But… then came the human contribution to creation: sin.

What was God’s reaction?  Many people respond “to kick them out of paradise.” But, God’s first response is a question:  where are you? Strange. It is not as if God did not know. And if God already knew, what was God really asking / seeking? Continue reading

The North Star

ancient-navigation-toolsBack in the day, I loved off-shore sailing. There was something adventurous and old-school about sailing out-of-sight of land with only a sextant, stars, a nautical almanac, a clear night to see the North Star, a navigation chart or two to guide you – and you were good to go. This was before the days of GPS, during the days of LORAN-C; but then it was the rare boat that had such exotic gear. Course, heading, speed, dead reckoning, and you were on your own. Continue reading

New Way of the World

c-brown-christmas-treeI wasn’t too sure what to expect for my first Christmas in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Certainly, the slum in which I lived was devoid of any of the commercial excess.  There were no malls, no black Friday, none of the things mark our Advent season.  Occasionally, you could hear Christmas carols, traditional and tribal, float out of one of the wood sheds/tin roofed stores.  But most the familiar signs and markers that Christmas was coming were missing. Continue reading

Angelic moments

josephangel“…Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18) And of course, we know the rest of the story… the angel comes and tells Joseph what is expected of him – to take Mary and the child into his home – to be husband and father. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Matthew 1:24). Great! Problem solved and now we can turn the page to Matthew 2 because in that chapter Jesus is born, the magi visit and we are all set for Christmas. Continue reading