Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Psalms 120-122; Hebrews 5

October 10, 2017

Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced when they said to me “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

This is a Dirty Harry Callahan opportunity moment to “Just ask yourself…”.  Just ask yourself about how you feel when you roll out of bed on Sunday morning.  Do you have a sense of anticipation – even of joy?  Or do you groan about the chore of having to go to Mass?  That’s a great “temperature check” of where you are in your spiritual life.  You need to get where you feel some excitement about the opportunity to be in the presence of Jesus.  Maybe it starts with a simple prayer upon arising – or even before arising – like “Good morning Jesus, I believe in you, I adore you, I hope in you, I love you, and am excited to be with you today!”  And then get up, but don’t look too closely in the bathroom mirror.  At least for me that can destroy any beginnings of a jolly mood.

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Psalms 48-50; 1 Thessalonians 3

July 30, 2017

Psalm 49:14-16

This is the way of those who trust in themselves,

and the end of those who take pleasure in their own mouth.

Like a herd of sheep they will be put into Sheol, and Death will shepherd them.

Straight to the grave they descend, where their form will waste away,

Sheol will be their palace.

But God will redeem my life, will take me from the hand of Sheol.

Psalm 49 is a great meditation on the futility of putting one’s trust in riches, instead of putting it in God,  There is nothing inherently evil in the accumulation of wealth: it is when whether you make that your God or not.  We all know with our heads that we are sooner or later leaving this existence and entering the next naked (I assume; an angel may hand you something nice to wear before entering the court room) and empty-handed.  We not all of us believe it in our hearts.  This psalm ties in nicely with today’s Gospel, the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.

Psalms 20-22; Philippians 2

July 6, 2017

Philippians 2:6-11

Who, though he was in the form of God

did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,

coming in human likeness;

and found human in appearance,

he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him

and bestowed on him the name

that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul reaches the rhetorical summit with this ringing paean to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Radical individualists would proclaim proudly of bowing the knee to no one.  In the New Jerusalem we shall bow the knee at the Name in great joy knowing that in its long, painful journeying after the sin of Adam that Creation is at long last rightly ordered.

Psalms 11-13; Ephesians 5

June 27, 2017

Ephesians 5:21-32 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Mary and I just celebrated 37 years of marriage.  This is a profound passage for meditation for married couples, and becomes increasingly profound for us with the passing years, as its meaning unfolds.  For some reason – perhaps as part of an agenda – certain people skip verse 21 Be subordinate to one another… and start a polemic based on verse 22 Wives should be subordinate to their husbands…  If you stop to thing about male-female relations in the first century, where in most cultures women were typically considered property, this is a revolutionary statement by Paul.  It really calls out men even more than women, exhorting them to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, which is total sacrificial love.  We live in a more and more “what’s in it for me” culture, and a Christian marriage well-lived is a contradiction to that, focusing on the good of the other more than the good of oneself.  And the good news here is that spirit of love spills over (“My cup runneth over!”) into our relationships with others.

 

 

Psalms 1-3; Ephesians 2

June 18, 2017

Psalms 1:1-2

Blessed is the man who does not walk

in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way of sinners,

nor sit in company with scoffers.

Rather, the law of the LORD is his joy;

and on his law he meditates day and night.

One of the prevailing lies in our culture is that sinful behavior is true freedom; the truth is sin is slavery.  The law of the Lord is and a love for it is true freedom, a true source of joy.  I’m thinking of that Billy Joel lyric from “Only the Good Die Young”:

I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners have much more fun…

The fruits of all that “fun”: disease, broken families, the full scope of human misery.  And when you meditate upon our eternal Home, if you are good and worthy of it then what’s so bad about dying young?  Just saying.

God bless, and Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Job 1:3; 2 Corinthians 6

May 5, 2017

Job 2:9 “Then his wife said to him, “Are you still holding to your innocence?  Curse God, and die.”

Thus goes the one time we hear from Mrs. Job, in one of the great pieces of world literature, the Book of Job.  It is said opposites attract, and she is definitely her husband’s opposite, comparing her one blunt baseball-bat-to-the-side-of-the-head statement to Job’s lengthy speeches.  “Curse God and die” also strikes me as perhaps the funniest piece of marital advice in the Bible; it immediately makes me picture Woody Allen playing Job, with maybe Rhea Perlman as Mrs. Job?  And it gives insight into the Old Testament view of the afterlife; “Curse God and die” wouldn’t be great advice if you believed in a particular judgment. This is why Scripture has to be viewed as a totality.  Job’s wife’s God and the God Jesus reveals to us in the Gospel are completely different, the stern and aloof Master as opposed to the loving Father.  That’s why we call it the Good News folks.

2 Maccabees 4-6; 2 Corinthians 2

April 18, 2017

2 Maccabees 6:18-31 Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes, a man advanced in age and of noble appearance, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork. But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement, he went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture, spitting out the meat as they should do who have the courage to reject food unlawful to taste even for love of life. Those in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring his own provisions that he could legitimately eat, and only to pretend to eat the sacrificial meat prescribed by the king. Thus he would escape death, and be treated kindly because of his old friendship with them. But he made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood. Above all loyal to the holy laws given by God, he swiftly declared, “Send me to Hades!” “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many of the young would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. If I dissemble to gain a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring defilement and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid human punishment, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hand of the Almighty. Therefore, by bravely giving up life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” He spoke thus, and went immediately to the instrument of torture. Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed, now became hostile toward him because what he had said seemed to them utter madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned, saying: “The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that, although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to him.” This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of nobility and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation.

 Eleazar is one of the earliest models of martyrology, written to encourage God’s people in times of persecution.  If you are familiar with Saint Ignatius of Antioch, it is reminiscent of his martyrdom, how his Roman persecutors were almost embarrassed to take a dignified old man to his death, encouraging him to apostasize for decorum’s sake, but the great saint was cognizant of the importance of his example to young people and to all the faithful.  And the persecution goes on today, as it has for the last 2,000+ years.  And so does the inspiration. When ISIS was preparing to behead those Coptic Christian workers on the beach in Libya, one of their captives was a young non-Christian Ethiopian, whom they asked “What about you?”  His reply – as the Coptics prayed to Jesus – was “Their God is my God”, and he was beheaded too.  What an inspiration to us in this country who face soft persecution for our Christian beliefs!  May we all cling to Jesus, our one true unfailingly faithful friend in this life.