Twenty Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 20:1-16 

Dear Friends, Each Sunday the Gospel message invites us into a new world, a world where the values of Jesus call and challenge us to change. In this world, we are told that the last shall be first, the leader is to be the servant of all. The response to violence is not revenge but to turn the other cheek. These are just a few of the world- shattering views Jesus has for us.

The parables are a particular method Jesus uses to crumble our clear and confident grasp on the common sense mentality of how we think that things really are.

Our immediate response to today’s parable is a clear and forceful, “No way!” How can the “dawn to dusk” workers not complain about the inequality of the “one hour crew” for getting equal pay?

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mt 18:21-35 

Dear Friends. Once again, Jesus uses the misinformed good will of Peter to lead us deeper into the mystery of God’s love.

To understand today’s message, there are several background points that are helpful. First, Peter’s suggestion of seven was quite generous in contrast to the operative law which was “an eye for and eye.” Second, the ten thousand talents were the highest imaginable figure of debt in the mathematics of the day. Third, the servant’s debt was about three months salary. Fourth, the King was a gentile so his forgiveness of the debt was all the more shocking.

The main message the parable is the Kingdom manifests a sea of divine mercy. We need to express the consequences of this gracious gift in our responsibility to our sisters and brothers. This is our struggle, the reality of the weeds and the wheat within our hearts that are confronted with the obvious and overwhelming demands of forgiveness to others.

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18:15-20

Dear Friends,

Today’s message of forgiveness and reconciliation is where the Gospel becomes concrete, where the rubber hits the road.

This message is part of a special section (Mt 18:1-35) on the church as a community. The Christian community is made up of flawed human beings who have a great need to heal the ever-present differences and conflicts that arise. Jesus presents a program of deep insight and wisdom.

When the conflict happens, Jesus asks us to approach it with humility and radical forgiveness. Recall the advice from the Sermon on the Mount (Mt.5-7). There are all kinds of teachings about forgiveness and reconciliation. One really relevant one in today’s case is, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first, then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:5)

Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 16: 21-27

Dear Friends,

From time to time, when I am frustrated working with people, especially in the Church, I say Jesus made only one mistake. He chose to let people to do His work. Of course, this is basically no different than what Peter told Jesus in today’s Gospel.

In the beginning of the Gospel of John we have a world shattering proclamation, “The Word became flesh.” (Jn 1:14) This is God’s plan. This is how Jesus accepted the call to save the world. Becoming flesh was not an isolated event. It is in accepting the totality of His humanity that God chose to save the world. This means He accepted all of us as we are as part of His reality.


Covid-19 on Our Road to Emmaus

The Resurrection stories in the Gospels invite us to enter into the mystery of the risen Christ. It is a journey from the head to the heart. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus are wonderful examples of this journey to this deepest truth within us.

The two disciples tell the story to Jesus. For them it is a profound tragedy. Their frustration blinds and consumes them. Even though their view of Jesus was as “a mighty prophet in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk 24:19) he was still put to death by the leaders. Their expectations for a savior and liberator of Israel had no space for a Messiah who suffered the infamy of death on the cross. Therefore, they are on the road to Emmaus without faith and hope.

The Twenty First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:13-20

Dear Friends,

Peter had quite a journey from the time Jesus asked him to leave his boat and nets and follow Him. He saw it all: the blind seeing, the lame walking, the devils cast out, the loaves and the fish and, of course, his short, ill-fated attempt to walk on the water and so much more. Now Jesus asks the question, “Who do you say I am?” (Mt 16:15)

Peter was ready or at least he thought so. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16)

Peter got it right. Jesus says, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my heavenly Father.” (Mt 16:17)

Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Matthew 15:21-28

Dear Friends,

It is very hard for us to grasp how deeply the Jews at the time of Jesus cherished their role as the chosen people of God to the exclusion of all others. It colored their reality with a clear vision and acutely guarded set of protocols that defined all social interaction with the Gentiles.

The early Christian Church struggled for two generations to break loose of this bondage of exclusiveness. Down through history the Church and all societies have continued to manufacture a mirror of this of elitism.

Today’s story from St. Matthew’s Gospel is as relevant as the latest blog filling the internet each hour.

Over the centuries, Christian voices have produced some incredible fantasies to explain away Jesus’ harsh language addressed to the Canaanite woman. It still stands for what it is: a statement of the blind prejudice of His times. I especially like those who claimed it was protocol not prejudice.

The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary time

Matthew 14: 22-33

    Today’s Gospel story of Jesus walking on the water is filled with symbolism and echoes of the divine in the Old Testament.  Most immediately the story of the boat in the storm is the manifestation of the Church’s struggles in the first days of her existence and down through history.  Likewise, the episode with Peter faltering is an expression of the basic human experience of being totally vulnerable.

    Peter is bold and adventurous in his cry out to Jesus, “If it is you Lord, command me to come to you on the water.” (Mt 14:28)  Peter begins his walk but reality grabs hold of his weak faith.  As Peter faces his moment of truth and begins to sink, his cry, “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30), expresses the naked and unfiltered truth of our humanity.  In the end, we are totally dependent on God.

    Jesus says, “Do not be afraid!” (Mt. 14: 27).  This phrase is one of the most common in all of Scripture.  It is uttered over three hundred times in the Bible.  Each time it reveals the presence of a saving and compassionate God.  To call it a statement of comfort is very short of the mark.  It reveals a God profoundly engaged in the human struggle with the power of healing and deliverance.  In today’s episode as an example, Peter ends up back in the boat rather than at the bottom of the sea.