6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A common experience of human illness—no matter how serious—is isolation. A simple cold or the flu can cut us off from other people. A common experience of healing comes when the human touch of another shatters our isolation: the touch of professional healers or the embrace of friends. Mark’s Gospel knows this human experience. In today’s story, Mark shows Jesus reaching across a huge cultural barrier to touch and heal a leper. For Mark this story is one of many that identify the mission of Jesus as a struggle against evil, manifested partly in human sickness and suffering. Sickness doesn’t mean...

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When disasters--personal or communal--occur in our world, it’s likely that religious people will be asked: What does God have to do with this? This short reflection can’t hope to answer that question, but perhaps today’s Sunday readings can help. In the First Reading, we hear from that Biblical expert on suffering—Job. It’s a short description of Job’s—and humankind’s—miserable condition. If we read more of the Book of Job, we discover that it doesn’t try to resolve the question of human suffering either. Rather it ends by bringing us face to face with the very mystery of God. With Job we’re invited...

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I have a seminary classmate who will occasionally chide me when we’re having a conversation—or rather, when he’s talking to me. If he perceives me not really paying attention to him, he’ll say, “Gregory, are you in my world?” What he means is, “Are you listening to me?” Listening is crucial. When it comes to the word of God, listening is absolutely essential. Today’s First Reading and Gospel share the theme of “listening.” Moses tells the people that God will raise up a prophet for them. God is giving them a prophet since the people were too frightened when they heard God address them...

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

How about a real “fish story” from today’s Sunday Scriptures? Hello, I’m Franciscan Father Greg Friedman with the Sunday Soundbite for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  A fish story is usually an outlandish, exaggerated tale. Our First Reading fits the bill—part of the story of Jonah. Besides featuring a pretty big fish, it tells a rather fantastic account of the instantaneous conversion of the ancient pagan city of Nineveh! Scripture scholars see the story as a kind of folk tale—short on history but long on spiritual truth: God calls each of us—even if we’re reluctant prophets like Jonah. Jonah resisted God’s...

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Despite all the slick, hi-tech forms of advertising around today, “word of mouth” is still an effective way to find out about things. Take movies for example. If people are talking about a film around the water cooler at work, you can be sure the weekend attendance figures for that movie will increase. Today’s Gospel depicts the effectiveness of word of mouth in spreading the news about Jesus. John the Baptist points out Jesus to two disciples, who meet the Lord and then in turn begin to share what they’ve found with others. Their early “evangelization” efforts continue beyond the verses...

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

While the following is taken from a homily by St. Proclus of Constantinople (5th century archbishop of Constantinople) for the feast of the Epiphany, the content of that feast in the Eastern Church focuses on the Mystery of the Lord’s Baptism, and therefore is appropriate for our celebration today. Christ appeared in the world, and, bringing beauty out of disarray, gave it luster and joy. He bore the world’s sin and crushed the world’s enemy. He sanctified the fountains of waters and enlightened the minds of men. Into the fabric of miracles he interwove ever greater miracles. For on this day...

The Epiphany of the Lord

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. ~Mt 2:12  “Epiphany” is from the Greek for “manifestation” especially of the divine.  While among Eastern Christians today’s feast revolves around the “manifestation” of the Blessed Trinity at our Lord’s baptism, in the West the feast focuses on the “manifestation” of Christ not only to the Jewish nation, but to all the nations, represented by the magi.  Our encounter with Christ cannot but change us.  While the route home for the magi was altered as a consequence of the instruction to...

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. ~Lk 2:19 Unlike other solemnities of the Blessed Virgin Mary (think of the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation, and the Assumption), today’s celebration is in one sense fairly new.  Before the liturgical changes ushered in by the Vatican II Council, the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was celebrated on October 11, (not coincidentally the date St. John XXIII inaugurated the Vatican II Council), but even this feast was a relatively new addition to the calendar given that Pope Pius XI had added it to the universal...

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord… in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. ~Lk 2:22, 24 The collection of liturgical celebrations that liter the Christmas season are a prolonged unpacking of the numerous consequences of God making his dwelling among us.  Among these consequences is that God has entered the world by means of a human family.  He does not descend from the heavens like an Olympian god or E.T., he lovingly submits himself to the normal human process of: conception, gestation, birth, and development.  In doing so, he sanctifies all...

The Nativity of the Lord | Christmas

And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. ~Jn 1:14 If the mystery of Christmas were to be summoned up in one word from scripture, perhaps one of the best contenders for that word would be Emmanuel, Hebrew for “God with us.” The verse from the Prologue of the Gospel of John, which is read at the Mass during the Day on Christmas, communicates essentially the same truth. God has made his dwelling (literally the Greek means “he has pitched his tent”) with us. However, the Gospel of John reveals to us the shocking content of Isaiah’s prophetic...