Thursday, February 22, 2018

Premonition of Calvary: The 2nd Sunday of Lent

 
One week into our Lenten journey, the Readings for this weekend’s Masses focus on passages that look ahead or anticipate Christ’s self-sacrifice on Calvary, which awaits us, as it were, in the “liturgical future,” on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

1.  The First Readings is one of the most pivotal texts in the Old Testament, the “Calvary” of the old covenant era.  This is what the Jewish tradition calls the Aqedah, the “binding” of Isaac:

Friday, February 09, 2018

Spiritual Leprosy and Healing: The 6th Sunday of OT



In this weekend’s readings, a healed leper disobeys Jesus and spreads the news of his miraculous cure everywhere, impeding the Lord’s ministry.  Why did Jesus tell him to be quiet about the healing?  What is the role of miracles in the Jesus’ ministry, and in the life of the Church today?


1. The First Reading for this weekend’s masses was obviously chosen to provide the background for understanding leprosy as it was experienced by the Jews and other ancient peoples.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Jesus, Healer of the Broken-Hearted: The 5th Sunday of OT




I went to a public high school in Hawaii back in the late 1980’s, and the social group I hung around with had more than its share of young cynics.  For some reason, it was cool to be morose, and one of my buddies was fond of responding to anyone’s account of some problem or difficulty that they were facing with the lovely couplet, “Well, life s***ks, then you die.”  At the time, we thought it was amusing, a kind of gallows humor, but in hindsight I regret showing any approval for such expressions of pessimism.  Life is difficult, but it neither helps nor is it virtuous to utter expressions of stoic fatalism.  The true virtue, the true courage, is to maintain hope (and also love, and joy) in the face of what can sometimes look and feel like an ocean of darkness.

This Sunday’s Readings raise the problem of the great sorrows of life, the reverses, difficulties, and especially illnesses that can seem to sap life of all joy. Yet in the Gospel, Jesus travels through Galilee relieving the ills and oppressions which have reduced so many to a life of “drudgery.”  The Readings leave us to ponder: how is it that even today, Jesus still comes to us to heal our broken-heartedness, restoring joy and hope?

The First Reading is from the Book of Job: