This weekend, we hear a lot about carrying our cross. How often do we reduce this phrase to its lowest possible meaning?
“I can’t go out in the sun without burning. It’s just my cross.”
“I’m lactose intolerant. Is my cross to bear.”
“I hate masks, but if Father Jess wants me to, I’ll carry my cross.”
Listen. When Jesus said this, the disciples weren’t thinking about bad skin, bad gas, or bad breath. They were thinking about one of the most gruesome forms of capital punishment used at the time and they had to truly love Jesus on an astonishing level to be willing to “carry their cross.” And so do we.READ MORE
When I was about 20 years old, I had one of the sweetest gigs on the planet. I house sat for several families. When they would leave Arizona for any reason, they’d hand me the keys and I’d essentially move in until they returned. Other times, they’d just ask me to stop in regularly, check the mail, and make sure there weren’t issues. Either way, I loved it without fail (except that time I had to hand-feed a Pit his meds...NEVER again…).
But the first time an owner handed me their house keys, I was overwhelmed with the responsibility and blown away by their trust.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom. This doesn’t mean heaven is a gated community and Peter is the eternal security guard. (See how I’m relating to the local area!?)READ MORE
I’ve lived and/or worked in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the Diocese of Tucson, the Diocese of Stockton, the Diocese of Orange (CA), and the Diocese of Phoenix. And in that time, I’ve worked with Bishops who I loved and Bishops who I...worked with.
I’ve worked for a total of seven parishes (six on a fulltime basis). In that time, I’ve worked with many priests. Some of them have been the most humble and holy men I’ve ever known behind the scenes. (I won’t give it away, but you are blessed to be at this parish.) Some of them...had struggles.
I’ve met thousands of Catholic families. In that time, some of them were kind, generous, and faithful. Others—to be blunt—were cruel, judgmental, and selfish.READ MORE
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus shows up walking on water. This happens in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, miles from shore, where the depth is about 43 meters. (So he isn’t walking on a sand bar or a big rock.) They freak out and think they are seeing a spirit.
When you look at the Greek, Jesus says, “Take heart, I am.” This is Jesus identifying himself, but also assuming the divine name of the Creator in the Old Testament and applying it to himself.
How do we know that this is an incident where Jesus reveals himself as God (and the fancy term for this is “theophany”)?READ MORE
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say It is well, with my soul.”
These lyrics are from the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” and were penned by Horatio Spafford.
He was a family man, a successful lawyer, and a senior partner in a large Chicago firm. In 1871, he invested the majority of his money in real estate.
Shortly thereafter, his young son died of scarlet fever.
In October of that year, the Great Fire of Chicago destroyed almost all of his investment.READ MORE
When a typical person is wandering through a field, and they discover a treasure, they keep it. What they DON’T DO, is leave it there, sell everything they own, and purchase the entire field.
So what kind of point is Jesus trying to make with this parable?
Most people understand the treasure represents (either) heaven or Jesus Christ, himself. And Jesus wants to make it clear to his followers that when it comes to the Christian life, there are no shortcuts. You can’t cheat your way into heaven. You can’t steal the Kingdom of God.
You have to give everything.READ MORE
My home has a night routine. First, our toddler gets a bath. Then, we ask if she’s hungry again. If so, it’s “second dinner.” (How do people who are so small eat so much?!) Next, it’s time to brush teeth. After that, all three of us pray together. Finally, milk and cuddles (which currently entails a few “Frog and Toad” stories).
The best part? The prayer. And while I’d like to think my prayers do an adequate job, and my wife knocks them out of the park, every few nights, Georgiana decides she wants to lead. It blows us away every time.
Here is a recreation: “Uh. Thank you for Mommy. Daddy. Ahmee (Grandma Linda). Thank you for Gramma Sue. Frog. Toad. Big bed. Mot (milk). Thank you for toast…” This goes on for about three more paragraphs. And we let her go. It seems nothing escapes her gratitude. SHE JUST TURNED THREE!READ MORE
Pop Quiz! Why did Jesus speak in parables?
When I was younger, I always thought the entire point of the parables was to take complicated teachings and make them understandable through the use of stories. If that was your answer, you get partial credit. Let’s take another look at the heart of this Sunday’s gospel.
“The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.”
Jesus used parables to as a way to make difficult teachings more understandable to those open to him, while—at the same time—confounding those whose hearts were (and are) closed to him.
How do we know this?READ MORE
I trust I don't have to repeat the litany of issues we are all facing these days...and it might not be over. Just last week, a 7.5 earthquake hit Mexico. Then, the next day, a 5.8 said hello to central California. Do any of you really want to rule out The Big One hitting California this year? (I'm not saying I want that to happen, I have many dear friends out West.) The point is - 2020's rough start might just turn into a rough year.
I think it is very important for all of us to ingest a few specific words from Sunday's Gospel reading: “Come to me, all you who...are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”READ MORE
I experience anxiety anytime I open my mouth these days. The avalanche of statistics, articles, video, and opinions on virtually any topic can leave anyone feeling woefully unprepared to speak out with any modicum of conviction.
But there are some things I know...
Today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is the day we celebrate our Lord sharing himself with every single human who chooses to accept that it is his Body and Blood.
This is key, because once again, Jesus sets the standard.READ MORE
I rarely do this, but because of two particular emails I received in response to last week’s email blast about fear—and due to current events—I’d like to add a bit to those thoughts. (Don’t stop halfway through.)
In Batman Begins, a character named Scarecrow releases a fear toxic across Gotham City. It feels like the devil has done the same thing to our land.
As I write this, we are dealing with a declared pandemic, people have died, many more have become unemployed, a fire has broken out just miles from the church and has destroyed several homes, those sworn to protect and serve are murdering people on camera, riots are spreading across the land, a curfew has been imposed on law-abiding citizens...and who could forget the murder hornets.READ MORE