Going Behind the Word: 32nd Sunday

The first reading from this week comes from one of the books of the Maccabees. Just who were they? And how does the time they lived relate to the time of Jesus, and to our time today? This new podcast seeks to go behind the reading to give context to help us to understand better what we hear at Mass.

Stand up, Blend in, or cause chaos

The time a couple of centuries before Jesus was an interesting one. There was a lot of political fighting, war, and religious fighting. It was a time when some sought to blend in, becoming like the culture around them. Others sought to defend their religious freedom. Still others sought to impose their ways of belief on others by killing them. It was a time that became perfect for the arrival of Jesus on the earth. Why? Because it became a time where the power of personal witness invited people to a more powerful relationship with God. Jesus did not force others to believe in him. It was the authentic witness of faith that inspired others to believe in him. This personal relationship of trust in God was one which led to total surrender, even at the cost of death. What is your witness? How do you help people to see in the way you live your life the invitation to believe in Jesus?

Identity, Charism, Mission: Why do Catholic schools exist?

Go to any Catholic school website, listen to any Catholic school discussion, look at admissions materials, and you will discover something about Catholic identity. But what is it? In this podcast, we will explore the idea of Catholic identity, its relationship to the Catholic school mission, as expressed through it’s charism. Identity, mission, charism. Important

When I am the lost sheep, it makes all the difference

I always felt it might be a little economically foolish to leave 99% of your investments to go off in search of 1%. And yet, Jesus does just that. And in some ways, when there is one missing thing, we can obsess over it. Think of getting a 99 on a test. Isn’t it the case that a lot of time is spent thinking about the one wrong answer, and not the 99 we got right? For the sheep, the 99 were in the presence of the shepherd. They did not need to be found, because they were already. The story is quite different if we think of it from the point of view of the lost. When we are the one who strays from Jesus, we are very grateful that he always seeks us out.

Will salvation come to your house?

It is interesting that today’s gospel story of Zacchaeus could be seen as a summary of the entire gospel. The mission of Jesus is quite interesting, as fundamentally he travels around helping the broken to know they are powerfully loved by God. Zacchaeus, despite his wealth, is one such broken person. While the gospel does not explicitly confirm that Zacchaeus cheated people, his position as a tax collector, his immediate statements about correcting fraud and extortion, and the reaction of the crowd seem to suggest Zacchaeus has not always been a man of good character. But the loving gaze of Jesus, and a surprising invitation make a big change in his life. Here how the gospel can be reduced to four movements or steps, and see how your life can change by embracing them.

Just imagine what God can do with you

Three people. Three religious people. On August 25, 1849, Brother Gelisaire and two other Christian Brothers arrived in Saint Louis. They were brothers of the Christian Schools, whose founder, Saint John Baptist de la Salle faced amazing difficulty in establishing his community. But one man inspired three brothers who came to Saint Louis. And today de la Salle’s vision has taken root all over the world. This was possible through faith in God. Because de la Salle answered God’s call, a community and way of life was available to Brother Gelisaire. His trust created a school that has taken all students who are willing to learn and provided tremendous opportunities. Students at this school have answered the same call from God to do tremendous things. Grace is freely given. God generously invites all to be saved. What will you do to answer God’s call?

Nothing is more powerful than God

Today’s section of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans is one of my favorites. I’ve often used today’s first reading at funerals. I find the words of Saint Paul to be a great comfort in a world where I could feel small and helpless. God can only be separated from us by our own choices, our sins, but even then is willing to do whatever it takes to bring us back into he care and grace.

Human Upgrades? Some thoughts on gene editing

At first glance it is the stuff of a high tech science fiction movie. But gene editing, using a technology called CRISPR (pronounced crisper) is makeing the possibility of creating designer babies more and more a reality. On the one hand, creating human beings that are more resistant to disease, who are smarter and so seem better able to solve big problems in the world seems enticing. But what of the downsides? In this podcast, we will explore the idea of gene editing as it pertains to creating the “ideal” human by looking at the technology, and exploring the ethical questions this may raise.

The sufferings are nothing

compared with the glory to be revealed for us. Can you believe this? With all of the trouble and suffering in the world, can you believe that anyone can say this? How is it even possible? How can it be that with the suffering and brokenness in others, let alone myself, that I can see that the glory to be revealed is simply that great? The gospel holds the answer. Even the slightest bit of God’s glory is beyond what we can know. And Jesus tells us as much when he gives an example of the Kingdom of God. A mustard seed, so tiny, becomes a large bush. The yeast is felt throughout the whole dough. And when it comes to God’s love for us, and the power of his presence, there simply is nothing stronger.

Do you pray to yourself, or to God?

The prayer of the Pharisee in the parable told by Jesus is interesting. First, he prays to himself. Think about that phrase for a moment. The Pharisee may address God, but the gospel starts by saying the Pharisee prays to himself. Second, the Pharisee is the best in his own mind. Listen how often his prayer has the word “I” in it. And rather than seeking the grace of God and his mercy and forgiveness, upon which we all rely, he does just the opposite. He makes it a point to tell God how wonderful his is and how awful everyone else is. The one who goes home saved is the publican, the tax collector in the back who knows who he is. A sinner. One in need of God’s mercy. One who knows that even though he does not deserve God’s mercy, he can receive it if he asks with humility. What about you? Do you pray to God, or do you pray to yourself?

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