Twenty-sixth Sunday of the Year – September 26, 2010 – St. John’s
A hymn perhaps familiar to you, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” praises God for all the lovely things he has made: flowers and birds; mountains and rivers; sunsets and mornings; winter’s cold and summer’s sun: “the Lord God made them all.” The concluding verse ran: “God gave us eyes to see them, / And lips that we might tell / How great is God Almighty, / Who has made all things well.” One of the original verses is hardly ever sung: “The rich man in his castle / The poor man at his gate. / God made them, high or lowly, / And ordered their estate.” That is, the distribution of wealth and poverty was part of the natural order of things, the creation of the God “who has made all things well.”
For the last two months we have been hearing a different view of wealth and power in our Gospel readings, all taken from St. Luke’s Gospel in which it plays a very important role. (more…)
The September 24th issue of Commonweal has an article by me on Cardinal Newman: http://commonwealmagazine.org/tacking-toward-truth
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 12, 2010 – St. John’s, Goshen
The meaning and purpose of the three parables we have just heard–of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son–are given by the first words of this marvelous fifteenth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel: “Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and Scribes began to complain: ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
In Palestine at the time tax collectors were considered compromised both by their regular contact with the hated Roman occupiers and by a reputation for dishonesty. “Sinners” was a designation that could apply both to people living wicked lives and to people who followed a different understanding of the Jewish law than others did, who considered themselves the only truly righteous ones. The complaint lodged on more than one occasion against Jesus was that he consorted with such social rejects and even permitted them to enjoy his company at meals.
The first two parables begin Jesus’ response. (more…)
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 5, 2010 – St. John’s, Goshen
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Let us hear that again, in all its shocking clarity: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” This is the first of three statements in today’s Gospel in which Jesus sets out what it will require of anyone to be his follower. The other two are no less startling: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” The cross was a horrible instrument, a torturing means of execution, but that is what Jesus says following him, being his disciple, means. After two small parables about counting the cost beforehand, he repeats the demand: “Anyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be my disciple.”
If a serious inquirer were to ask, “What does it mean, what does it require, to be a Christian?” I doubt that many of us would immediately answer: “Well, you have to renounce all your possessions. You have to carry a cross. You have to hate your closest relatives.” And these are not the sorts of statements we see on advertisements that invite people to consider becoming a Catholic. But, to refer to the two parables, this is the cost of building that tower, and these are the troops that king needed for his war. What are we to make of it all? (more…)
It is ten years now since Fr. James H. Provost died, a priest of the diocese of Helena, long-time colleague at Catholic University. His death came very quickly, from lymphoma, and much too soon for all of us who still mourn and miss him. Here is the homily I preached at his funeral:
Funeral of Rev. James H. Provost
August 30, 2000 – Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D. C.
According to the Apostle Paul, the last enemy that will be subjected to Christ, at the end of all things, is death, when he who is the first-born of those who have died gathers all the just up into his risen life and presents them to his Father. Then the corruptible body will be clothed with incorruptibility, the mortal body with immortality. Then at last will the prophet’s words be fulfilled: “He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,” and then the just will sing: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting.”
But that glorious day has not yet dawned, that last trumpet has not yet sounded, and as we gather here, this death–the death of our brother and friend, James Provost–this death still stings. (more…)