Mary Ortwein. "Finding Our Lives" A Catholic Moment. July 8, 2023 My reflection on this week’s readings began with the last three minutes of last Sunday’s homily by Bishop Robert Barron. (Hear it here) He was talking about what “those who lose their life will find it” means. This is part of the text:
Mary Ortwein. "Mud or Breath of God?" A Catholic Moment. February 25, 2023 Most everything that is important in life has a path: there is a first, second, third, fourth point to the journey. As a line from a song in “The Sound of Music” says, “Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever could…”
John Bergsma. "Correcting Moses" The Sacred Page. February 11, 2023 The “Hippie” Jesus is one of the common misunderstandings of Christ that are circulating in popular culture. People think of Jesus as a laid back guru who traveled around Israel in this Volkswagen Vanagon, accompanied by twelve dudes in tie-died T-shirts. Jesus taught that all we need is Love, and not to be so uptight, like all those rule-bound priests and scribes.
Mary Ortwein. "Love, the Guest" A Catholic Moment. December 3, 2022 The traditional Advent hymn, “People Look East,” has been running through my head. It comes to mind because it captures the mood and images of today’s readings.
Fr. Dominic White. "The Love that Reaches Out" Torch. October 19, 2022 Just imagine. You’re in church, and in front of you, you see someone who you know to be a extortioner. You know that he’s got money out of your friends, money they can ill afford to pay. And there he is, praying.
Mary Ortwein. "Forgiveness in Families" A Catholic Moment. September 10, 2022 The picture today is one of Barnhart’s Prodigal Son. This replica statue is at the Speed Museum of Art in Louisville, Kentucky. It was part of my penance when I returned full-throttle to the church in 2011 to go to the statue and pray. How someone could so fully express sorrow, yearning, love, fear, healing, and joy simultaneously in marble, I do not know, but in my time before that statue God gave me an intuitive understanding of forgiveness that has lasted now for more than a decade.
Fr. Peter Harries. "Surprisingly Wide Mercy" Torch. September 7, 2022 In today’s gospel passage, Jesus tells us three parables which teach us that God is a God of mercy, a surprisingly wide mercy, because God welcomes repentant sinners. Jesus here is teaching a mixed group of people. The Pharisees and the scribes might be thought of as the conventional goodies, the ones who followed the law, who did what God wanted, as they understood it. But there were plenty of baddies listening avidly to Jesus as well.
John Bergsma. "Wisdom and Discipleship" The Sacred Page. September 3, 2022 One of the most famous German opponents of Adolf Hitler and Nazism was the Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom the Nazis executed by hanging in April 1945 for his involvement in a plot against Hitler himself. Bonhoeffer’s most famous work was a meditation on the Sermon on the Mount entitled (in English) The Cost of Discipleship.
Mary Ortwein. "The Right Use of Things" A Catholic Moment. July 30, 2022 Benedict taught that the right use of things was to see them as important tools for maintaining a quality of life. They were not to be disdained. But things were always meant for the “common good”—for a quality of lifestyle for the entire community.
John Bergsma. "Ascension Day!" The Sacred Page. May 25, 2022 This is an unusual Lord’s Day, in which the “action” of the Feast Day actually takes place in the First Reading. We typically think of all the narratives of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, overlooking that Acts records at least two important narratives about the activity of the Resurrected Lord (Acts 1:1-11; also 9:1-8).
John Bergsma. "Mass of the Lord’s Supper" The Sacred Page. April 14, 2022 The Readings for the Holy Thursday Mass focus on the continuity between the ancient Jewish Passover and the institution of the Eucharist. As the Passover was the meal that marked the transition from slavery to Egypt to the freedom of the Exodus, so the Eucharist is the meal that marks the transition from slavery to sin to the glorious freedom of the children of God.
John Bergsma. "The Easter Vigil" The Sacred Page. April 14, 2022 The Readings for the Easter Vigil recount the history of salvation by focusing on the various covenant stages throughout the Biblical storyline.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "The Secret Hidden from the Amoral" ronrolheiser.com. April 4, 2022 According to the Bible, there’s a secret that’s hidden from the amoral, known only by the virtuous. The Book of Wisdom tells us that when we are not virtuous we do not know the hidden counsels of God, nor do we grasp the recompense of holiness, nor discern the innocent soul’s reward.”
Mary Ortwein. "Something New" A Catholic Moment. April 2, 2022 The picture is of my son pulling out shrubs that have been across the front of my house for many years. I am “doing something new!” It is spring here, a time of year when I get an urge to “do something new” with my house and yard. God, through the prophet Isaiah, says he is doing something new in today’s first reading.
John Bergsma. "Jesus and the New Exodus" The Sacred Page. March 13, 2022 Lent is drawing to a close. This week we celebrate the last Sunday of Lent before the beginning of Passion Week. This Sunday is period of “quiet” between Laetare Sunday and Passion/Palm Sunday, our last opportunity to meditate on the ‘ordinary’ struggle of Lent before the intensity of the events in the last week of Our Lord’s life. Let’s use it well!
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Earn Greatness Through a Sacrificial Service: Jesus Our Model of Leadership" A Catholic Moment. October 17, 2021 The world is increasing in religious affiliations yet it is decreasing massively in prophetic / evangelical witnessing. The devil has devised a means of making disciples: He no longer prevents the people from worshipping in their religions, rather he lures them into an easy and artificial faith, devoid of authenticity. It is in the face of this changing world that the church is called to become more prophetic and visionary in the image and likeness of Christ the head.
John Bergsma. "How Can I Live Forever?" The Sacred Page. October 9, 2021 Very few of us want to die. In fact, there’s an obsession in this country with staying young and looking young. Entire industries have developed around cosmetics, nutritional supplements, plastic surgery, and fitness gyms, all for the sake of staying young and staving off the natural effects of aging. I think it’s partly a refusal to embrace the inevitability of death. Along one of the roads between Steubenville (where I live) and Pittsburgh, there is a cyrogenics warehouse that stores the frozen corpses and heads of persons who paid a lot of money to be preserved until medical technology is able to thaw them out and cure their ailments.
Fr. Joseph Veneroso, MM. "Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. September 26, 2021 I had the good fortune to study Scripture with Rabbi Asher Finkel. What made his lectures intriguing was that his specialty was the New Testament, specifically the teachings of Jesus. Rabbi Finkel offered insights into Jesus that most of us Gentiles could never imagine. One day he launched into an impromptu explanation of the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, saying that, to the Jewish mind, it made perfect sense for the Messiah to be born of a ritually spotless womb.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "Why Stay In the Church" ronrolheiser.com. July 12, 2021 Several weeks ago after giving a lecture at a religious conference, the first question from the audience was this one: How can you continue to stay in a church that played such a pivotal part in setting up and maintaining residential schools for the indigenous people of Canada? How can you stay in a church that did that?
Fr. Peter Hunter. "Naughty or Wicked?" Torch. February 15, 2021 Years ago, after the death of someone we knew, I was talking to some of my Dominican brothers about the man who had died. “He was a very naughty man, but he wasn’t at all wicked,” said one of the brothers. A wise old priest who overheard our conversation said, “Well, maybe, but don’t forget: Jesus died for the wicked.”
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe. "Let yourself be free" Torch. September 9, 2020 When we listen to the Scriptures, it is natural to keep one’s ears open for whatever one agrees with. It is reassuring to discover that God thinks we are right. But the Word of God only punctures our deaf complacency when it challenges us.
John Bergsma. "Christian Confrontation" The Sacred Page. September 1, 2020 I don’t like personal conflict. I try to avoid it as much as possible. Probably most Americans do. I’m not sure what it’s like in other cultures, although I’ve heard of places where open social confrontation is more common.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Let them be. reliving the experience of a Patient God" A Catholic Moment. July 19, 2020 The readings today draw us closer to the mystery of the kingdom. The first reading and the Gospel are meant to widen our vision about the attitude of God towards the world and the created beings. He shows himself as a God rich in mercy and patience to those who do not live in conformity to his will, but then his mercy and patience cannot be wasted forever.
John Bergsma. "Accepting a Prophet" The Sacred Page. June 27, 2020 God is generous, and he rewards those who help his servants as generously as he rewards his servants themselves. That is the message of the Readings for this 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time. We begin with an account from 2 Kings concerning the reward of a wife of the town of Shunem, who was consistently gracious to the prophet Elisha.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "From the garden of Eden to the desert of Judaea: Gap between sin and righteousness" A Catholic Moment. February 29, 2020 Lent is here again. It is a 40 days walk to Calvary. It is a relieving of the experience of the garden of Eden and the wilderness of Judaea. Is is a journey from the desire of the “apple”(the fruit depicted as apple because it’s a fruit that originated from the east) of fall to the affirmation that man does not live by bread alone but on the Word of God; from disobedience to obedience.
Fr. Samuel Burke. "Battle Ready" Torch. February 26, 2020 Lent can be thought of as battle! It’s a time when we engage in a kind of assault against spiritual evils in order to ebb away at those things that come between us and God. Perhaps that might sound a little swashbuckling? But for good reason, many prayers and writings in the Christian tradition talk about spiritual warfare and describe Lent especially in militaristic terms.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "My Salvation, My Choice" A Catholic Moment. February 16, 2020 God revealed His laws to His Chosen People through Moses and the prophets in the Old Testament, and through His own Son, Jesus, in the New Testament. Today He challenges us to choose freely either to observe the laws He gave to us or not. Yes they are heavy, but his salvation awaits those who choose them with courage.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Salvation has come to this home today" A Catholic Moment. November 3, 2019 The experience of the conversion of St. Augustine could be likened to that of Zacchaeus in the Gospel. And the first reading affirms how conversion is made possible through God’s patience and mercy. Yet man must cooperate with this saving grace of God by striving to remain in the good works as St. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians in the second reading.
Fr. Lawrence Lew. "Open House" Torch. October 31, 2019 Wealth, it is often thought, can buy us happiness and status; men and women strive after money not because it has any intrinsic worth but because of what we hope to gain with it. Hence the Gospel introduces us to Zacchaeus, a man that we’re explicitly told was a wealthy man, who had made his fortune, it seems, from being a senior tax collector in Jericho, a town made rich by the production and export of a precious perfume known as balsam.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "The Frustrating Struggle for Humility" ronrolheiser.com. October 28, 2019 It’s hard to be humble, not because we don’t have more than enough deficiencies to merit humility, but rather because there’s crafty mechanism inside of us that normally doesn’t let us go to the place of humility. Simply put, as we try to be self-effacing, humble, and non-hypocritical, variably we take pride in that and then, feeling smug about it, we become judgmental of others.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "The Lazarus at my door" A Catholic Moment. September 29, 2019 The kingdom of God has to do with a struggle against human tendencies and the quest for the right way of living. And what is this right way of living? It does not consist only in the good one does but also in the good he fails to do. Thus the readings today call us to be attentive to the little things we neglect because they count much before God. The first reading presents Amos’ message of woe and a prophetic warning against sin of complacency and indifference.
Fr. Dominic White. "Freedom to Captives" Torch. April 16, 2019 I spent a month on placement in prison chaplaincy when I was training for the priesthood. One thing that struck me about prison is the sameness of every day. Yes, there are changes in timetable at the weekends (in reality, that often means the prisoners are longer in their cells), but other than that it’s isolation from the change and variety of the outside world. For good reasons, of course.
Fr. Benedict Jonak. "Go And Sin No More!" Torch. April 3, 2019 Today’s Gospel story is simply captivating, although Jesus speaks few words. He writes in the sand with his finger – a gesture which is unexplained, and uncommented by the evangelist. It all builds up the tension, which is already huge from the very first moment the woman is brought to Jesus, as the crowd stands in silent expectation of a swift judgment. To be more precise: judgment had already been made. The woman was caught in the act, and the Law prescribes, that she be stoned to death.
Fr. Lawrence Lew. "God-like Desires" Torch. February 20, 2019 Our enemies stir up in us a desire to be gods. For, how many of us, having been wronged, or mistreated, or humiliated, or plotted against by our enemies have not felt that rush of hatred, and a longing for vengeance? We would take to ourselves a god-like power over them, punishing them, bringing them down, having them feel remorse, or even, desiring their demise! Like a Zeus, or a Thor, or a Kali, there is this idolatrous hatred, even within Christian hearts, that wills ill upon one’s enemy in return for ill received.
Joseph LaCombe. "Resist" A Catholic Moment. September 30, 2018 I was once talking with a priest during confession, talking about things I had done that were bothering me and had offended God – things I hated that I kept doing, that I needed forgiveness for. He then said something that I will always remember. He said, “All of those things you just said, they’re just fluff. What we need to do is get to the root of the problem. We need to find out the why. What is the cause?”
Fr. Robert Ombres. "Better to Enter into Life" Torch. September 26, 2018 Much of our modern way of thinking and of our culture wants us to believe, and many people do, in a small world. That kind of world has a shrunken sense of the real, in it life is pursued within limited horizons, and the expectation is of annihilation at death. This helps to explain why the lines from today’s gospel according to St Mark are so challenging.
Joseph LaCombe. "Just Have Faith" A Catholic Moment. July 1, 2018 These are wise words from the book of Wisdom today. So often we witness or experience bad things in the world, or suffer from afflictions and we may ask, “How can God let this happen?” Similarly, I remember a story about a tornado a couple years back and someone mentioned on Facebook how thankful they were to God that they and others were OK and did not get hit by the tornado.
Joseph LaCombe. "The Cornerstone" A Catholic Moment. June 3, 2018 The last four Sundays, we’ve celebrated one Solemnity after the next. It started with the Ascension, and Christ showing that He truly is the Son of God, that He is that one thing that can truly fill the void and emptiness within each of us.
Fr. Benjamin Earl. "Redeeming Confusion" Torch. April 11, 2018 The Easter season coincides with the “home straight” of the academic year, which means that many students in schools, colleges and universities will shortly be facing examinations. Probably at some point those preparing for exams will experience confusion as they seek to order their thoughts and their studies. Part of a revision process is about making connections between the various things we have studied; but we all mix things up from time to time, and as we fit the different pieces of the jigsaw together we might occasionally get the wrong piece. We hope, of course, it will look much better as the jigsaw nears completion.
Fr. Peter Hunter. "Love's Response" Torch. March 29, 2018 I could never be a secular humanist. I have friends who are. I respect them, and can accept that they hold their views after thoughtful consideration but I cannot share their views and particularly their view of human progress.
Sr. Elizabeth Zwareva, MM. "Ash Wednesday" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. February 14, 2018 God, who is unseen, speaks through the prophets and says to the people, repent, come back to me who am your merciful, compassionate God. Remember and repent!
Larry Parr. "23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. September 10, 2017 The gospel reading for today reflects on how to confront sin, and repair our relationships with our brothers and sisters.
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon. "Seeing Salvation" Torch. April 11, 2017 How does the resurrection of Jesus make a difference for us? You might think that the answer is obvious but that is not what everyone thinks. Some will say, “So what? Even if Jesus was raised from the dead, and there are witnesses to that fact, then what has that got to do with you and me.’
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "Of Virtue and Sin" ronrolheiser.com. February 27, 2017 There’s an axiom which says: Nothing feels better than virtue. There’s a deep truth here, but it has an underside. When we do good things we feel good about ourselves. Virtue is indeed its own reward, and that’s good. However, feeling righteous can soon enough turn into feeling self-righteous. Nothing feels better than virtue; but self-righteousness feels pretty good too.
Mary Ortwein. "The Immaculate Conception" A Catholic Moment. December 8, 2016 It happens in secret…in the dark… at a time and in a place known only to God. In the holy darkness of the womb is the great miracle: the conception of a child. How can it be that a microscopic cell of one human being can find and join the microscopic cell of another and within minutes join characteristics of both to create a never-before-or-after-created human being?
Joseph LaCombe. "The Good Thief" A Catholic Moment. November 20, 2016 I must say, I’ve been struggling a little with what to write about today, this Christ the King Sunday. I like to always try to find a personal aspect with which I can relate the readings to everyday life, and so I’ve been trying to think about what is relatable about recognizing Jesus as the King of the Universe?
Fr. John Patrick Kenrick. "Spiritual Athletes?" Torch. August 17, 2016 These days far fewer children seem to be familiar with the great stories of the Old Testament, stories that were once the standard fare in Christian RE lessons and Sunday schools. This may be due to the common opinion that Old Testament stories are always full of violence and depict an often irritable and violent God, hence not really suitable for impressionable young children – who in any case prefer these days to play violent computer games rather than read violent stories.
Fr. Lawrence Lew. "In the Midst of Life" Torch. February 8, 2016 The season of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday is something like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale (later made into a movie) of Benjamin Button in which the protagonist presents the curious case of ‘ageing backwards’; he begins his life an old man and ends up a baby. The Liturgy’s movement, leading us from Ash Wednesday through Lent and into Eastertide is something like this too. For today we begin with a burial. Just as funerals are performed in public, so we will (in seeming contradiction to the Gospel) wear ashes on our forehead very publicly, to be seen by all.
Laura Kazlas. "Conversion is a Cooperation With God’s Grace" A Catholic Moment. September 28, 2014 What is really amazing about the gospel today, is that Jesus wasn’t judgmental at all about some of the most frowned upon sinners of his time. In fact, he stood up for them right in front of the Pharisees.
Laura Kazlas. "If Your Brother Sins Against You" A Catholic Moment. September 7, 2014 How difficult it is to choose which reading to focus on today, because all three readings for Mass have to do with the same subject, including the Responsorial Psalm.
Laura Kazlas. "The Reason Jesus Gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom" A Catholic Moment. August 24, 2014 Both of the readings for Mass today have to do with a person that is given keys, and a position of authority to open and close, or bind and loose. The prophet Isaiah said that God gave Eliakim the key to the House of David.
Fr. Nicholas Crowe. "Saving Humanity" Torch. August 15, 2014 Everything that the Church teaches us about Mary, the Mother of God, is intended to help us grow closer to her son Jesus Christ, and lead us into a deeper understanding of who he is and what he has done for us. It is important, then, that we understand the feast of the Assumption against the horizon of this salvation offered to us in Jesus Christ. Now this Christological horizon was underlined for us in our second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians. St. Paul reminds us that:
Fr. John McAuley, MM. "Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. February 16, 2014 The Pharisees were devout reformers committed to reinvigorating the religious roots of the society of their day. They were particularly interested in the Law of Moses and the words of the prophets as correctives to the corruptions found in the Temple cult and the monarchy.
Fr. Aelred Connelly. "Rejoice with Me" Torch. September 15, 2013 I am not one of nature’s ascetics. For me the Golden Calf and the Fatted Calf are one. There is nothing quite like a nice bit of Vitello Milanese, ‘with chips’, soaked in red wine vinegar.
Laura Kazlas. "The Most Holy Trinity" A Catholic Moment. May 26, 2013 Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. What can any of us really say about the Trinity? The best religious thinkers and theologians have reflected on the Trinity throughout many generations and have determined that we can never fully understand the Trinity. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are simply too vast for our human minds to comprehend the fullness of their relationship with one another. That is why the Trinity has always been referred to as a mystery.
Fr. Timothy Calvert. "From His Silence" Torch. March 17, 2013 When the disciples were caught in the middle of a sudden storm they cried to the sleeping Jesus to save them, and he awoke and sent the tempest to sleep, calming the waves and the wind. Who is this, they questioned themselves, that even the force of nature obeys him?
Laura Kazlas. "Woman Caught in Adultery" A Catholic Moment. March 17, 2013 It is really awesome how the first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah fits with the gospel. At first glance, the scriptures from Isaiah have nothing to do with the gospel today. God opens a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters, leading an entire army to drown in the sea. This of course, is the parting of the red sea and describes how the Pharaoh’s entire army drowned in the sea, while they were in hot pursuit of Moses and his people.
Fr. John O'Connor. "Sleepwalking Through Life" Torch. February 17, 2013 John Le Carré’s novel, The Secret Pilgrim, tells of a young man, a member of the intelligence services, visiting the former East Germany to liaise with a spy. Against all proper procedure, acting from anxiety to do things right, he carries in his pocket some cards on which were written details of the spy network. The visit goes well, and it is only on his return that he notices that the cards are missing, that they must have fallen out of his pocket.
Fr. Mark Edney. "Healing Our Original Wound" Torch. October 7, 2012 Jesus says ‘from the beginning of creation, male and female he made them.’ The Pharisees ask a question about how to regulate family life and social stability. Jesus goes beyond all of that because he is not a social reformer aiming to ensure that society is better regulated. He is bringing about a new creation which will heal the wounds of the first and open new possibilities for a renewed humanity. In the beginning God created them male and female. Adam and Eve were no longer two but one flesh. They were joined together in a loving, intimate union by God’s own design.
Fr. Robert Verrill. "Cutting Out the Cause of Sin" Torch. September 29, 2012 Some sayings of Jesus are so difficult to deal with, it is tempting to say He was exaggerating and we shouldn’t take Him too literally. For example, in today’s Gospel, when Jesus says ‘If your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off,’ did He really mean it, or is this just Semitic hyperbole? One possible way to deal with this saying would be to take Jesus a bit more literally: He doesn’t actually say our hands cause us to sin.
Fr. Dominic Ryan. "The Unvarnished Truth" Torch. August 20, 2011 Last Friday evening I watched as a group of young pilgrims gathered at St Dominic’s Priory in London. The pilgrims had come together from across the country to travel with a group of Dominicans to Madrid for World Youth Day.
Fr. Robert Ombres. "Restart from the Beginning" Torch. October 4, 2009 Think of the church weddings you have been to. Everything seems designed to make the occasion a celebration beyond the ordinary. Not only do the bride and groom wear special clothes but everyone dresses up. There are flower arrangements, a colourful carpet perhaps, the organ is played and there can be singing and even trained musicians. Generally there follows a reception or party, and there could well be dancing at the end.
Fr. Francis Gaine. "It's a Scandal" Torch. September 27, 2009 Jesus always provokes a response in those who encounter him. It’s true that there are those who want to follow but are afraid and those who are held back by something they don’t want to leave behind. But at bottom there are those who are for him, and those who are against. Jesus himself implies as much:
Fr. David Sanders. "Who Can Overcome the World?" Torch. April 19, 2009 In St John's Gospel Jesus says 'I have overcome the world'. He means the world in so far as the world is marked by sin and death. And that world is all around us. Sin is obvious in a world torn by wars and famine, and a refusal by the rich to share God's gifts more equitably with the poor. It is a world which in recent times has come crashing down. And when we ask what is behind the fall of banks, the craving for endless profit, the determination for an elite to take huge bonuses despite their failure we receive a unanimous answer: the world has been destroyed by the sin of greed.
Fr. Benedict Jonak. "Tell All Your Friends" Torch. June 22, 2008 Preachers tend to avoid preaching on the passage from the Letter to the Romans that is one of our lessons for this Sunday. This is often because what Paul says is not necessarily clear in itself and because this passage may seem to be primarily about sin and death which are not at the heart of our faith. Still, it is worth tackling the question what is the message communicated in this passage from Romans.
Fr. Jonathan Fleetwood. "Alienation and Mission" Torch. September 15, 2007 The full reading of today’s Gospel comprises four sections: Jesus eats with the ‘lost’ sinners; the lost drachma; the lost sheep and the lost Prodigal Son. We read the parable of the Prodigal Son also in Lent, when it fits in with the reflection during Lent upon personal sinfulness. Today the four sections link together to suggest wider themes. Two of them would be alienation and mission.
Fr. Rudolf Loewenstein. "Progress in the Life of the Spirit" Torch. April 15, 2007 Many of us will at one time or another have been confronted by the following question: ‘But why do we have to go to Confession?’ Certainly I can remember asking it as a child, and as a priest I have heard various people wonder just why it is necessary — and anyway, as some people go on to inquire, ‘Just who thought of it in the first place?’
Fr. Simon Gaine. "Seeking Expert Advice" Torch. February 21, 2007 More and more we seem to be worried by experts — can we trust what they say or not? We have no choice, though, but to trust experts in a complicated society like ours, where there are so many things we need to make judgements about. And this means that a great deal of our lives depends on trusting other people, on trusting their particular expertise. It can’t be any other way.
Fr. Richard Ounsworth. "The Enemy's Country Laid Waste" Torch. February 13, 2005 Why should we see Lent as a ‘joyful season’? True Christian joy is not some vacuous, mindless and bland refusal to face up to all the things that make us sorrowful, and Lent is the proper time to remember especially our own sinfulness, our own weaknesses and failings — things that should indeed make us sorrowful.
Fr. Richard Conrad. "Beginning the Pilgrimage of Freedom" Torch. December 8, 2004 Today we celebrate the beginning of Our Lady’s pilgrimage, when she was conceived in her mother’s womb. On August 15th we celebrate the end of her pilgrimage, when she was assumed bodily into heaven. These two great feasts ‘define’ the life she lived between those two moments: they say no taint of sin was ever in her, from the first moment to the last.
Fr. Jonathan Fleetwood. "A Heritage Restored" Torch. September 12, 2004 Today’s Gospel reading is long, but it is only in seeing how the sections of it hang together that we can see its meaning as a whole. We have the introduction, the parable of the hundred sheep, the parable of ten drachmas, and the parable of two sons.
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe. "Welcome Home" Torch. March 28, 2004 One of our deepest needs is to be at home. We need a place in which we may flourish and be ourselves. All of today’s readings show us how we may find that home in God. St Paul says in the second reading:
Fr. Martin Ganeri. "Life and Love, Death and Sin" Torch. February 17, 2002 On the Cross love was confronted by sin and death. This confrontation reached its climax on the day of Jesus’ death, yet the struggle between the forces of life-giving love and death-bringing sin began at the beginning of the world with the first generation of human beings.
Fr. Simon Gaine. "Lost and precious" Torch. September 16, 2001 Jesus is in trouble again. This time it’s his attitude to ‘sinners’ that has provoked the scribes and pharisees. Jesus seems to be just too open to the despised margins of Jewish society. He eats with tax-collectors, he drinks with sinners: doesn’t he know he is being contaminated by their company? How can Jesus be a holy man, when he behaves like this?
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "Be Brave, Admit Your Sinfulness" ronrolheiser.com. July 1, 1988 Several years ago, after concluding a confession within which she had admitted to some rather serious things, a lady asked me: “What would you call those things? My neuroses? My woundedness? My struggle areas? My immaturities?” Half-jokingly, I answered: “Call them sin! Afford to them and to yourself the dignity of a rich and timeless symbol.”
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "When Sinners Rationalize" ronrolheiser.com. February 1, 1987 Several years ago, after the pope had been heckled during his visit in Holland, a Belgian newspaper ran an editorial that commented as follows: The difference between the Dutch and the Belgians can be seen in their separate reactions to the pope. In Holland, people don’t keep the commandments, but they still want to be saints, so they demand that the commandments be changed.
Alice Carwardine. "24th Sunday in Ordinary Time" Australian Women Preach. September 17, 2023 Alice is the coordinator of Caritas Catholic Earthcare, an organisation committed to addressing environmental issues through Catholic social teaching. She holds a Master's degree in theology with a focus in eco-theology, reflecting her passion for the intersection between faith and care for the planet.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Agents of Divine Mercy" Word on Fire. April 16, 2023 Friends, we continue our celebration of the Easter season on this Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Mercy, St. Thomas Aquinas says, is compassion in regard to someone else’s suffering; thus, God’s mercy is his compassion reaching out to us precisely in our suffering. Keep that in mind as we walk through the Gospel passage for this week from John: the extraordinary account of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples. Christ has been sent into the world as an agent of God’s mercy, answering our sin and woundedness with forgiving love. And the same Christ breathes on us, giving us the Holy Spirit, and sends us into the world with the same mission.
Danielle Anne Lynch. "Fourth Sunday of Lent" Australian Women Preach. March 19, 2023 Her work in systematic theology encompasses Theology, Music, and Songwriting, with particular interest in feminist and queer approaches. She also works in Mission, Liturgy, Religious Identity and Culture, and Religious Education. Danielle's book on music and theology God in Sound and Silence: Music as Theology was published in 2018.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Christ Can Heal Us" Word on Fire. July 10, 2022 Friends, the Gospel for this Sunday is one of Jesus’ best-known parables: the story of the Good Samaritan. Karl Barth, who learned it from the Church Fathers, taught that every parable of Jesus, at the deeper level, is finally about Jesus himself. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a good example of this principle; it is fundamentally about Christ healing fallen humanity.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Sacrifice, Covenant, Banquet" Word on Fire. June 19, 2022 Friends, we come this weekend to the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and the Blood of Christ. The Eucharist, as Vatican II famously said, is the source and summit of the Christian life—that from which Christian life comes and that toward which it tends. It’s the alpha and the omega of our Christianity. Our three marvelous readings today bring forth three key aspects of the Eucharist: re-presented sacrifice, blood covenant, and spiritual banquet.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Refuse Scapegoating Violence" Word on Fire. April 3, 2022 Friends, this Sunday, we hear the story of the woman caught in adultery from the eighth chapter of John. René Girard thought that this story was particularly clear in showing the dynamics of what he called the scapegoating mechanism. And in the response of Jesus to the violence of the mob, we see the glory of God, who does not sanction this scapegoating frenzy, but rather meets the misery of our sin with his mercy.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Are You Blinded By Cities of Sin?" Word on Fire. October 24, 2021 Friends, in today’s Gospel, we hear the marvelous story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus—an icon of tremendous power and a sacred picture of the spiritual life and the process of salvation. We all find ourselves, in our need of Christ, in this image, as our own blindness distorts our vision of spiritual reality and the meaning of life.
Bishop Robert Barron. "We Just Don't Get It" Word on Fire. September 26, 2021 Friends, let us rejoice whenever the grace of God is on display. The point of the sacraments is so that God’s grace may flood the world, but the Lord can operate outside of our formal structures. He desires these gifts for us, but as the creator of them, he is never limited by them.
Fr. Addisalem Mekonnen. "Are we generous or jealous" St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. September 26, 2021
Deacon Melvin Burton, Jr.. "Homily" St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. August 29, 2021
Bishop Robert Barron. "Into the Cacophony of Sin" Word on Fire. April 5, 2020 On Palm Sunday, we are privileged to listen to one of the great Passion narratives. In Matthew’s account, we see Jesus as a still-point in the maelstrom, as God’s fidelity amidst a cacophony of sin. In the course of the Passion, Jesus confronts betrayal, laziness, violence, untruth, abuse of power, self-destruction, and wanton cruelty—the whole panoply of human dysfunction. And he takes away this sin precisely by his obedience and his mercy.
Bishop Robert Barron. "By the Waters of Meribah" Word on Fire. March 15, 2020 Our first reading for today is the famous quarreling of Israel by the waters of Meribah in the book of Exodus. We find the chosen people in the midst of the desert—which is to say, in the process of conversion, on the way from the slavery of sin to the freedom of God. But all conversion takes time; those on the way always tend to look back. And so we hear: “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?” Here in the very middle of Lent—our own season of conversion—are we finding it hard, annoying, frustrating? Would we rather go back? Probably. But this is the decisive moment: Do we head back to Egypt, to slavery? Or do we trust that the Lord is guiding us?
Richard Rohr. "A Fundamental Option for God allows you to withstand many Ambiguities" Center for Action and Contemplation. February 15, 2020
Richard Rohr. "Sin is collective and salvation is collective" Center for Action and Contemplation. January 19, 2020
Richard Rohr. "If you hated something, you would not have created it" Center for Action and Contemplation. November 3, 2019
Bishop Robert Barron. "Don’t Forget the Poor" Word on Fire. September 29, 2019 When the conclave of 2013 was finishing up, and Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, Cardinal Hummes of Brazil came up to him and whispered into his ear: “Don’t forget the poor.” In emphasizing “a poor Church for the poor,” Pope Francis is continuing an ancient and powerful tradition that stretches right back to the Bible, including our first reading and Gospel for today.
Richard Rohr. "God running after humanity, who barely want to be Found" Center for Action and Contemplation. September 15, 2019
Bishop Robert Barron. "The New Jerusalem" Word on Fire. May 19, 2019 We are coming now toward the end of the book of Revelation, which means toward the end of the entire Biblical story. Writers will often draw the beginning and end of their work together; somehow the end is anticipated in the beginning, and the beginning is recapitulated at the end. There is something like that going on in the Bible. God has no intention of giving up on his creation or simply destroying it. The divorce that happened in the garden of Eden is overcome; and now the bride is ready for the Bridegroom.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Heavenly Praise" Word on Fire. May 5, 2019 In today’s reading from Revelation, John is in the heavenly court and he sees angels, elders, and living creatures, countless in number, all standing around the throne and crying out in loud praise. This is a supreme liturgical act, an act of right praise. And whom are they worshiping? Not a mighty prince, not a great warrior, not a cosmic force, but a lamb, one of the meekest and tiniest of animals, who has been slain—Jesus Christ. The Church saw this evening sacrifice as the perfect act of praise—and now the cosmic Church is gathered around it and associating itself with it.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Invasion of Grace, Confession of Sin, Acceptance of Mission" Word on Fire. February 10, 2019 There is a wonderful parallel between our first reading and the Gospel this week. The first reading is taken from the sixth chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, and it has to do with the call of Isaiah; and the Gospel is from the fifth chapter of Luke, and it deals with the call of the first disciples of Jesus. Both stories, in remarkably similar ways, lay out the essential dynamics of the spiritual life.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Coming Home from Exile" Word on Fire. October 28, 2018 Our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah treats of a theme that is basic throughout the Bible: the motif of the return from exile. Like two great hinges on which the Old Testament turns are the stories of Exodus and Exile. Israel finds itself enslaved in Egypt, but God liberates the people; later, the northern tribes are carried off by the Assyrians; and later still, the southern tribes are carried off by the Babylonians. But exile was also a kind of spiritual metaphor, a trope for having wandered far from the Lord.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Undoing of Original Sin" Word on Fire. September 23, 2018 One of the most important doctrines of the Church is the doctrine of original sin, which asserts that something it off with us. We see the effects of it everywhere, and we also see many attempts to solve the problem of sin o
Bishop Robert Barron. "God Did Not Make Death" Word on Fire. July 1, 2018 The Book of Wisdom offers us the strange assertion that God did not make death, for he formed humanity to be imperishable. This revelation directs us towards the truth that death is much more than merely the dissolution of the body; it is the full impact of the power of sin over our lives. This power is especially evident in our fear of death. The dormition of the Mother of God offers us a sign that Christ has given to humanity a way that takes us not only beyond our fear of death but beyond death itself. The way of Christ enables us to face the power of death with trust rather than fear.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Walking According to the Spirit" Word on Fire. May 20, 2018 I’m delighted that on this Pentecost Sunday, I can reflect on one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. It is taken from the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. In this passage, Paul gives those who belong to Christ their marching orders by laying out the works of the flesh—those attitudes and actions that stand against the way of love—and the works of the Spirit.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Basics of Christian Proclamation" Word on Fire. April 15, 2018 Our readings for this third Sunday of Easter provide lessons in fundamental Christianity and a kind of master class in preaching. And notice the tension they stress between sin and grace. To get this tension wrong, to emphasize unduly one side or the other, produces mischief in religion.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Mystical Union of Christ and His Church" Word on Fire. April 23, 2017 Jesus has come to bring us the divine life. Under his influence we become peaceful, unafraid, evangelizing, and forgiving. Through the Church, saints are made. This is because Christ is at the very center of the Church.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Three Shortcuts from the Cross" Word on Fire. March 5, 2017 Our Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent covers the three “shortcuts” the Devil offered Jesus to lure him away from his central mission of the cross. The Devil chose these temptations because he knew that Jesus would not be primarily a social reformer, or a wonder-worker, or a political operator. He would be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Knowing who Jesus is and what he is about is indispensable as we commence the Lenten season.
Richard Rohr. "A Psychology of Sin and Blaming" Center for Action and Contemplation. March 13, 2016
Bishop Robert Barron. "Master, I Want to See" Word on Fire. October 25, 2015 The story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus is a spiritual icon of enormous power. Bartimaeus is evocative of anyone who, aware of his sin, blindness, and incapacity, hears the summons of Jesus to come into the Church, the place where vision will be restored.
Richard Rohr. "The Prodigal Father" Center for Action and Contemplation. September 15, 2013
Bishop Robert Barron. "Fishers of Men" Word on Fire. April 14, 2013 Today’s reading from the Gospel of John offers a compelling meditation about the importance of Christ for the activities of the Church. Christians are meant to be fishers of men, but when we operate according to our own agendas and efforts we will catch nothing. We must act under the Lord’s direction. If we follow Christ we will do great good indeed.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Every Saint Had a Past, Every Sinner Has a Future" Word on Fire. March 17, 2013 This week’s scriptures present the hope of moving forward. All of us have sins and vices in our past. Christ offers us the possibility for forgiveness and a bright future in grace no matter how sinful our pasts are.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Jesus Among the Angels and Beasts" Word on Fire. February 26, 2012 Lent begins with a passage about Noah and flood. It’s representative of not only sin, but of God’s good grace. It’s also a fitting entree into Jesus’ journey into the desert, also symbolic of sin, and how his presence there infuses a forgotten, desolate place with life and goodness. When we are racked with sin, it is Christ who can infuse us with life and goodness.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Structure of Discipleship" Word on Fire. April 18, 2010 Our Gospel for today, taken from the wonderful 21st chapter of St. John’s Gospel, is filled with mystical and symbolic allusions. The disciples in the boat are evocative of the church; Jesus on the shore calls to mind the eschatological fulfillment toward which the church is journeying; Peter calls to mind both sinful Adam and the promise of redemption. In all of it, we see a picture of discipleship.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Shaking the Foundations" Word on Fire. February 7, 2010 Grace shakes us to the foundations, provoking in us a keen awareness of our own sinfulness, and offering us the liberating power of the forgiveness of our sins. Once transformed by God’s grace, we are sent out on mission and through our mission, we share with others the Grace that we have received.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Called From Darkness Into His Light" Word on Fire. October 25, 2009 The story of Bartimeaus is a model of the spiritual journey. The desire for Christ engenders in us spiritual healing, which is delivered in a profound illumination of Christ’s identity, the acceptance of which leads us into the Church.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Old Adam or New Adam" Word on Fire. September 28, 2008 Our second reading contains one of the most precious texts in the Christian tradition, Paul’s description of the mind of Christ. While the old Adam clung to godliness and hence fell, the new Adam let go of his divinity and hence reversed the momentum of the fall. What does it mean to be conformed to God? It means to embrace the path of self-emptying love. Which Adam do we choose? The Old or the New?
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Mission of Easter" Word on Fire. March 30, 2008 Essential to the Easter message is mission: we are sent by the risen Jesus to do his work in the world. It is never enough that we contemplate his risen splendor; we must become his forgiveness-bearing presence to those around us.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Repent!" Word on Fire. December 9, 2007 John the Baptist sums up the Advent season. He lives in the desert, the place of no distraction, and he speaks a message of repentance and the confession of sin. Advent is a great time to clear away all that separates us from Christ. It is a time of repentance.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Zacchaeus" Word on Fire. November 4, 2007 The story of Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke is a kind of spiritual itinerary. If we attend to it carefully, we will learn the essentials of the life of grace.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Lessons of Naaman" Word on Fire. October 14, 2007 The story of Naaman the Syrian is not terribly well-known, but it contains some marvelous spiritual lessons for all of us. It tells us of the importance of patience, humility, perseverance, prayer–and above all following our weakness as it leads us to God.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Five Act Drama" Word on Fire. July 16, 2006 For the next several weeks, we are going to be reading from Paul’s magnificent letter to the Ephesians. In our passage for today, we learn that we are situated within the context of a great theodrama, written and directed by God, and designed to lead us to eternal life. The Biblical drama has five acts: creation, the fall, the formation of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the Church. We read the Scriptures in order to discern the contours of that drama and, more importantly, our place within it.
Bishop Robert Barron. "A Baby Born in Straw Poverty" Word on Fire. December 25, 2005 Recently, I read an interview with Bono, the lead singer of the group U2. Asked about his religious beliefs, he replied, “I think that there is a love and a logic that lies behind the universe. So I believe in God. I also see, as an artist, the poetic appropriateness of that unspeakable power manifesting itself as a baby born in straw poverty. And that’s why I’m a Christian.” My sermon for today is just an elaboration of Bono’s wonderful Christmas sermon.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Seventy Times Seven Times" Word on Fire. September 11, 2005 Our capacity to forgive others is tightly linked to our realization that we have been forgiven by God. When we try to justify an ethic of radical forgiveness on purely humanistic grounds, we will fail. But when we know in our bones that our sins have been eradicated through the cross of Christ, then we are able to forgive one another even seventy times seven times.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Zacchaeus, Hurry Down" Word on Fire. October 31, 2004 The story of Zacchaeus is an icon of the spiritual life. Even the worst of us have, deep down, a hunger for God and a desire to see Jesus. When we follow the promptings of that desire, wonderful things can happen. Of course, when Jesus enters our lives, he means business: “I am coming to stay at your house this day,” he says to Zacchaeus. Christ will not be a peripheral interest, one value among many. Once we invite him in, he will be the Lord of our lives.
Bishop Robert Barron. "A God of Relentless Mercy" Word on Fire. September 12, 2004 The God of the Bible is infinitely demanding and infinitely merciful. Jesus said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and he taught us to think of that Father as a good shepherd willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Our spiritual lives get off the rails when we exclusively emphasize one or the other of these dimensions. God hates sin–but he relentlessly, passionately runs after us sinners, eager to draw us back into friendship with him.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Good Samaritan" Word on Fire. July 11, 2004 The story of the Good Samaritan is not merely a morality tale, an account of the kind of life we should lead. It is that, but, at the deepest level, it is also a telling of the basic story of sin, fall, and redemption. All of us sinners are the man beaten up and left half-dead by the side of the road. We cannot be saved by law or religion or our own works, but only by Jesus Christ and his grace. This best-known of Jesus’ parables is finally a narrative of salvation.
Bishop Robert Barron. "A Ransom for the Many" Word on Fire. October 19, 2003 What does it mean to say that Jesus died for our sins? How precisely does his cross save us? The first Christians saw sin as a sort of imprisonment, like being held for ransom, and in the dying and rising of Jesus, they experienced freedom. What freed them was God’s solidarity with them in their fear, even their fear of death. How do you experience the power of Jesus’ death on the cross? How does it set you free?
Bishop Robert Barron. "The God of the Nations" Word on Fire. March 30, 2003 Though the Enlightenment taught us to privatize and interiorize our religion, the Bible has a robustly “political” sense of God’s activity. God’s will is revealed in the movements and struggles of the nations. National sin (like personal sin) results in divine judgment. This deeply Biblical intuition is revealed in Lincoln’s reading of the Civil War and in Karl Barth’s interpretation of the First World War.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Angels and the Wild Beasts" Word on Fire. March 9, 2003 Mark tells us that Jesus went into the desert and there was ministered to by angels while he lived among the beasts. One of the marks of sin is an aliention of the body and the spirit, the animal and the angelic in all of us. Jesus represents the proper balance between the two.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Jesus in the Desert" Word on Fire. February 17, 2002 Just after his baptism, Jesus retires to the wilderness and there he faces the tempter. We enter into this experience with him, facing the same struggle. Like the Lord himself, we wrestle with the temptations to make sensual pleasure, the ego, and power the center of our lives. In resisting all three, we make the acceptance of God’s will and mission possible.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Irresistable Call" Word on Fire. January 27, 2002 When Jesus calls his first disciples, he stirs the “imago Dei,” the image of God, in them. They realize that they will find themselves only in surrendering to the one who will make them fishers of men. We hear the same call from the same Christ.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Disquieting Humility of God" Word on Fire. January 20, 2002 John hesitates before baptizing the Lord, saying, “It is I who should be baptized by you.” The great surprise–that we have been wrestling with for two millenia–is that God’s greatness is a function of his humility, his willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder in the muck of sin with the likes of us. That we have such a God, a friend of sinners, is the reason for our hope.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Downward Momentum of the Son of God" Word on Fire. April 8, 2001 The Word entered into our flesh in order to bring the love and justice of God even to the darkest places. Jesus stands shoulder to shoulder with sinners in the waters of the Jordan, and, at the end of his ministry, he goes into the pain and anguish of death itself in order to save us.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Three Paths of Holiness" Word on Fire. February 4, 2001 The Bible rather consistently lays out three ways walked by the man or woman of holiness: finding the center, knowing you’re a sinner, and realizing your life is not about you. All of these are beautifully presented in the story of the call of Simon.
Romans 7:21 "Tempted by Evil" Do we realize that even though sin holds us down, Jesus is the answer to lift us up?
Romans 6:23 "Choosing Spiritual Life" How much are we thinking about our spiritual life when we sin?
Romans 6:15 "Jesus Above Sin" Do we realize that only by keeping Jesus close do we overcome sin?
Romans 3:23 "All Sinners, All God’s Family" Since we all need God, can we see how we are all the same?
Romans 2:3 "God Judges, Not I" Are we judging others for their sins and forgetting our own?
Baruch 4:28 "Embracing God Always" Are we aware that we need to constantly repent since we tend to not follow God’s way?
Baruch 1:22 "Sinning in Front of God" Are we aware that by keeping our hearts away from God we begin to offend God?
Ezra 9:6 "Ashamed of Sin" Are we really repentful of our sins before we ask God for forgiveness?
1 Timothy 3:15 "Behaving in Front of God" Do we act differently when we think God is not present?
Matthew 22:12 "Changing for God" Are we lying to ourselves that we have no sin and refusing to repent?
Matthew 18:21 "Forgiving Like God" Do we consider how much God has forgiven us when thinking about forgiving others?
Psalm 106:20 "Not Giving Up God" Are we keeping God first in our lives or are we prioritizing other things?
Genesis 45:5 "Saving Lives" Are we bringing Jesus into every aspect of our lives?
Matthew 9:10 "Communing with Jesus" Are we failing to join in communion with God because of our sins?
Genesis 18:15 "Truth of God" God calls out our lies and things we conceal. Are we open to face the truth?
2 Corinthians 6:3 "Stumbling Others" Do our actions bring God to others or pushes them away from God?
Mark 12:40 "God Excuses, We Cannot" What sins are we covering up hoping that God does not notice?