Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Actions not words

Today we pause in our Advent celebration and celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew. While the gospel accounts of his call vary, the one assigned for the liturgy is Matthew. In Matthew, Jesus sees the fishermen calls them and immediately they leave everything and follow him. A reader familiar with old testament will on hearing this remember the call of Abraham in Gn 12 where we are told simply that he went.

Sometimes we have to just do what we know to be right. There is a place for reflection, but there are also those moments in life when if we think too much we talk ourselves out of the right choice and rationalize the easy choice.

Sometimes we have to make the leap of faith.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lord I am not worthy...

The words of the centurion are familiar to all of us because we pray those words every time we celebrate the Eucharist.  Yes, the words are about to change. The new translation will bring the liturgical text closer to the biblical text and the Latin original of the pray with "to have you enter under my roof" in place or "to receive you."
The unworthiness of the centurion is not, however, the center of the passage. More important as he explains is the issue of authority and the power of the word of God.
His acknowledgment of being under authority disturbs us.  We mistakenly misunderstand the concept of freedom. We act at times as if to be free means to not be under the authority of anyone.  The paradox of the gospel is that it is only when we acknowledge the authority and power of Christ in our life that we can find our true freedom: freedom from the power of sin and death, freedom to live the new life Christ gained for us.
Jesus says of the pagan, Roman centurion that no where in Israel had he found such faith. Today we are invited to reflect on is how much we really trust in the power of Christ to change our lives and bring us healing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

St Cecilia

Today we celebrate the patroness of musicians and are reminded once more of the special place that our church has always accorded to music, and in particular to song and chant.

While we may refer to what birds to as singing, it is not. It is technically a whistle. To sing is to combine two of God's great gifts, music and spoken language. And there is a power in this combination to move our very soul, to joy and to tears.

One of the most tragic losses in our liturgy is the loss of singing which seems in many places to have been relegated to the choir. This Sunday we begin a new liturgical cycle let us pray that through the intercession of St. Cecilia our churches may be filled with the sound of the people raising their voices in praise of God.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dedication of St. John Lateran

If someone were to ask "Which church in Rome is the cathedral of the diocese?", most people would probably answer St. Peter's.
The cathedral church of the Pope is the one we celebrate today, St. John on Lateran Hill. It's real name is "The Arch-basilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist." (interesting to note that both Johns are included in the name.)

It is the one church whose dedication we celebrate throughout the world because as the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, it stands as a symbol of the unity of the universal church. It was consecrated in the year 324 and has seen the church through many successes and failures.

As any old house owner can tell you, if the foundation of the building is good, the rest can be repaired. And the readings today remind us that our church is built on the perfect foundation, Jesus Christ.

As we celebrate the dedication of our ancient church, we recognize it needs some repairs, but with Christ as our sure foundation we have nothing to fear.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The strange response

The response to the apostles today strikes me as strange. Jesus has just finished explaining how even if someone wrongs you seven times in a single day, if they apologize, you are to forgive them, and the response of the apostles is to ask for faith. Jesus tells them faith isn't the issue, when he says "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed..."
It strike me that the real issue in this kind of forgiveness of repeated sin is neither faith nor love, but the third theological virtue, hope.
When some continues to do the same thing over and over again, we loose hope. We begin to believe that they will never change, or worse yet, they can never change. We loose all hope. In a word we despair.
Despair in Christianity is considered a sin. Why? Because it is a denial of the power of God, and Grace.
Science tells us that our physical self is in a constant state of change, even after we die. Our faith tells us until the very last nanosecond of our earthly life, conversion to God is possible.
As long as God exists there is always hope.