5th Sunday of Lent

And when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. ~Hebrews 5:9 “Made perfect” It’s an odd expression to assign to our Lord, isn’t it? To be made perfect suggests that Christ was not perfect, was imperfect. Could this be? Some would like to argue that Christ, with respect to his character and virtues, was imperfect. Like the flawed heroes who have become more and more commonplace and popular in our imagination, an imperfect Christ is more relatable, so goes the argument. This line of reasoning, though, runs into serious dilemmas. If Christ’s...

4th Sunday of Lent

By the rivers of Babylon there we sat weeping when we remembered Zion. ~Ps 137:1 The responsorial psalm that most of us will hear this Sunday is taken from Psalm 137. Here, the psalmist recounts the sullen memories of exile in Babylon and consequently the alienation from Jerusalem. It is difficult for us to appreciate the spiritual trauma of the event, when in 587/6 B.C. the armies of Babylon (and its ally Edom) conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and led off into exile a significant portion of the population. The Babylonian Exile marked not only a brutal end to Judah’s political...

3rd Sunday of Lent

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Rm 5:1 “The tranquility of order” is how St. Augustine defines peace in The City of God.  This order results when something finds that for which it is searching.  The dog experiences peace when it finds its bone.  The runner experiences peace when he finds the finish line.  The human being experiences peace when he finds his home.  Ultimate peace is to be found in God alone, and truly only once we have completed our journey to God.  Often times we confuse peace with concord or agreement.  We believe that if...

2nd Sunday of Lent

If God is for us, who can be against us?~Rm 8:31 During the season of Lent, we hopefully engage in some degree of self-reflection: what have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ? Not infrequently, when confronted with our sins, assuming we are willing to acknowledge them and take ownership for the ways in which we fail to respond to God’s continual offer of friendship and grace, we become overwhelmed. For many of us, our sins are all too visible to us. Often times, it is easier for us to come up...

1st Sunday of Lent

It’s Lent—and your covenant is “up for renewal.” A covenant is an agreement that binds two parties. In today’s First Reading from Genesis, we hear of the agreement God makes with Noah never again to destroy the earth by water. In return, Noah and his family were to populate the earth. In every Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer we hear Christ’s words, “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant….” In Christ, the ancient relationship between God and humankind has taken on a human face. Why do I say Lent is a time to renew your covenant? Well, in centuries...

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...