In the first book of Samuel, chapter eight, the people ask Samuel for a king. Forgetting that God is their king, or perhaps more accurately rejecting the kingship of God, the people want to be just like other nations. Notice this. The people want to be just like other nations. The idea is one that remains common today. Sometimes we too find ourselves wanting to fit in, to be just like everyone else. Whether it is because we find ourselves unwilling to fin God because we sin, or simply do not desire to think about God, we can still experience a tension between God’s way and ours. This weekend by celebrating Christ the King we see how they coincide and complement each other.
I came across an article a few weeks ago that proposed one way to understand generational divides in the Church in this way. It was a question of two values: identity and inclusion. For young people who are active in the Church, it is important to have “identity markers” to help them to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. For others, it is important to welcome the lost and broken into the Church and to include them. Today’s first reading and gospel show us how to do both.
Just who was the prophet Malachi? Truth is, we really do not know. But learning about the structure of the message of the book of the prophet Malachi can both warn us to be concerned with how well we follow God, and filled with hope about what God has in store for us.
The Catholic world has a real problem. Somehow it thinks it is just like the secular press, and it does not need to be clear and honest. That it can “report” using its own ideology as fact, rather than reporting events that actually happened. You may have heard that sixty-nine bishops voted against the notion that abortion was a preeminent issue. But the motion voted on was not about removing the word “preeminent”. It was about whether all of paragraph 101 of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate should be included, instead of the few sentences quoted. And sixty-nine bishops voted to include the whole paragraph. Listen to my commentary here.
I do not think about the Holy Spirit often enough. The words from the book of Wisdom use such magnificent words to describe the Spirit: intelligent, holy, unique, Manifold, subtle, agile, clear, unstained, certain. More important is how the Spirit can make true such amazing words to describe what God wants to do with each one of us. We have such tremendous potential when we hand our lives over to God. How can you know? ” For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” It is not the case that God is unwilling to help. It is that we must work to do all we can to embrace God’s love for each one of us. And when we do, we become more than we could ever imagine.
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.
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?
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…
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.
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.