Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Unexpected Ways of God: The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In this 26th Sunday in ordinary time, the church puts before us a series of passages that should serve to challenge the tendency to restrict the workings of God to what merely conforms to our expectations. This can be seen in the first reading, for even Joshua was preliminarily unable to comprehend the unexpected work of God.

First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29
The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses.
Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses,
the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders;
and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied. 
Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad,
were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp.
They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent;
yet the spirit came to rest on them also,
and they prophesied in the camp.
So, when a young man quickly told Moses,
"Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, "
Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said,
"Moses, my lord, stop them."
But Moses answered him,
"Are you jealous for my sake?
Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!
Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!"
 Our reading breaks up an account of Israel complaining regarding lack of food in the desert and God’s provision of Quail as well as the sending of a great plague (Numbers 11:1-15; 31-35). In the midst of the people’s infidelity, God moves to help Moses in the task of leading Israel in the desert by granting Moses seventy elders to share in the leadership burden.

When the seventy elders gathered around the tent of meeting, God came down in the cloud and took some of the spirit that was on Moses and LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Why Doesn't Being Good "Work"? 25th Sunday in OT

When I was younger, especially from high school through my early days as a Protestant pastor, I had this strong sense that if a person always did what was right, “things would work out.”  That is to say, righteousness was the path to the good life.  God would pave the way in front of the person that does his will.  

There is some truth to that, of course.  A great deal of interior and exterior suffering is cause by our wicked and selfish choices.  When I used to work as an urban missionary, occasionally I would have the chance to witness a fairly significant conversion in the life of a person who had been living a life basically consisting of criminal activity.  Sometimes there would often be a “honeymoon” period after the person’s conversion, as so much stress and sadness in their life faded away as they stopped making evil choices.  

The wisdom literature of the Bible stresses the link between righteousness and natural prosperity.  Under normal conditions, the virtues—hard work, honesty, kindness, courage—bring blessing and success.

However, the world is not always normal.  In fact, it seldom is. And there are frequently situations where honesty and courage will get you marginalized or even killed, because those who have power are committed to a lie.  St. Thomas More was arguably the most honest man in England in his day, and he got beheaded for his efforts.

Is the answer, then, to just “go along to get along”?  To be righteous, but not so righteous that we provoke opposition?  Not if we are followers of Jesus.  This Sunday’s Readings explore the theme of the suffering of the righteous.

1. Our First Reading is from Wisdom 2:12, 17-20:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Cross and Discipleship: Readings for 24th Week of OT

We have been getting a number of rousing challenges from Jesus in the past several weeks, as our readings have followed the progress of his ministry, and Jesus repeatedly makes clear that following him is not going to be easy in any way.  This Sunday we get another challenge from Jesus to “fish or cut bait” in our relationship with him.  Paradoxically, however, if we think we are going to preserve our lives and comfort by turning away from him, Jesus warns us: long term, that’s a bad strategy.

1.  Our First Reading is one of the Servant Songs of the Book of Isaiah:

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

JP Catholic University seeks to double its campus size

JP Catholic University is looking to buy some more real estate, which could be the site for a new building housing a bigger chapel as well as some other fine facilities. Essentially, the purchase would double the size of the school's campus.

Time is of the essence on this one. The property is on the market and the school would love to be able to make the purchase but is seeking financial backers.

Anyone interested in possibly supporting us can find more information here.

Friday, September 04, 2015

What Does It Mean to be Deaf? The 23rd Sunday in OT

The reality of sight and hearing are a great mystery that natural science has difficulty explaining. 

Robots, of course, can be equipped with sensors to detect sound and light, and react in various ways to audio and visual stimuli.  But a robot cannot “see” or “hear” in the way that a human person does.  A robot cannot create the visual field that each of us “sees” when we open our eyes.  A robot can sense the frequencies of sound but cannot feel the harmonies of Mozart or experience the sensations of good music.  A robot is not conscious.  True sight and hearing are experiences of consciousness, of the mind.  Without the gift of the mystery of consciousness, everything is blackness and silence, because there is no mind to perceive anything.  When God breathed into Adam the “breath of life” and gave him the gift of consciousness, then light and sound came into being for the first man.

To hear and to see are mysterious gifts of the creator God.  In this Sunday’s readings, we are invited to ponder more deeply the different senses of what it means to be blind and deaf, and how Jesus can heal us of these maladies.

1.  Our First Reading is from Isaiah 35:4-7: