John Bergsma. "Vote for Monarchy" The Sacred Page. November 19, 2022 Here in Steubenville one of my co-workers has a clever bumper sticker that reads: “I’m a Monarchist. And I Vote.”
John Bergsma. "The Cry of the Poor" The Sacred Page. October 22, 2022 Several years ago, Christians around the world were shocked and saddened by the execution of twenty-one Egyptian Christian men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and fell under the power of ISIS. This martyrdom is just one of the more dramatic examples of abuse and oppression that seems so prevalent in the contemporary world. Where is God in all this?
Jillian Foster. "Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. August 7, 2022 It was quite a humid walk on the way up to the village of Danti. Still early in the morning, the sun had yet to show its full face on us. In front of me was Father Janin and trailing along behind me were a couple of other people carrying packs. My own pack was soaking up all of the sweat on my back. The trek started in the riverbed below and continued straight up the mountain for nearly two hours.
Mary Ortwein. "Friends with God" A Catholic Moment. July 16, 2022 One of the things I love about St. Teresa of Avila is that she showed me how to be friends with God. Today’s readings are often used to encourage the Christian virtue of hospitality. I love hospitality, but prayer this week took me beyond it to see these readings as about being friends with God. Some St. Teresa quotes will introduce the friends with God theme in each of our readings.
Fr. Dermot Morrin. "Into the Darkness" Torch. May 11, 2022 When Judas had gone out, it was night. Judas walked out into the entangled darkness of those who rejected Jesus and who plotted his death. Judas walked away from the one who is the light of the world. When we think of this thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, we think of the foot washing and of how that extraordinary gesture symbolised Jesus giving his life for us on the cross. We think, too, of how Jesus said that, by this act, he has given the disciples an example to follow.
Fr. Robert Ombres. "Hope and Realism" Torch. May 2, 2022 As Christians, when we face difficulties we may well ask God to remove them. But God’s loving providence could have other plans for our lives. So in addition to praying that God’s grace will put an end to some difficulty or suffering we may need to pray for God’s grace in our struggles with those difficulties and that suffering. St Paul pleaded three times with the Lord that the thorn in his flesh might be removed from him. He was told by the Lord ‘my grace is enough for you’. His will be done, not ours.
Fr. John O’Connor. "Hope of the Innocents" Torch. March 15, 2022 Sitting at a desk in a safe place, I am painfully aware that from where I live a mere two and a half hours away by aeroplane, in Ukraine, many innocent people are suffering grievously. Today’s Gospel passage, in which Jesus raises the difficult question of why bad things happen to innocent people, makes especially challenging reading at times like these.
Mary Ortwein. "Tough Skin and Tender Heart" A Catholic Moment. January 29, 2022 St. Therese of Lisieux is a doctor of the Church, not for her Summa Theologica, but for her Little Way of Love, described here in her autobiography. She was a very Victorian young woman who often expressed herself in ways foreign to our modern perspectives, but both her autobiography and historical research show that her love was as tough and strong as Jeremiah’s in the first reading or Jesus’ in the Gospel. No matter how others responded to her, St. Therese chose to actively love.
Fr. Bruno Clifton. "More than Worth the Cost" Torch. October 11, 2021 For generations the liturgy has presented the suffering servant of Isaiah as a prophecy of Christ. We find this today in our mass where the first reading from Isaiah is proclaimed in preparation for the Gospel of Mark and Jesus’s third prediction of his suffering. Such an interpretation of Isaiah appears to be as old as the first preaching of the good news (cf. Acts 8:30-35); and we can imagine that part of Christ’s risen explanation of himself on the road to Emmaus included reference to Isaiah’s servant (cf. Luke 24:25-27).
Fr. Mike Gillgannon. "Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. September 12, 2021 “Put up or shut up.” “Does she walk the talk?” Daily we use these phrases to ask whether people are sincere. Do we follow through with what we say? “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” We all are familiar with this question from St. James in the second reading. Is the Judeo-Christian tradition of faith a litany of verbal values that move us at the hearing?
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "The suffering Servant and the saving power of God" A Catholic Moment. September 12, 2021 Suffering is an inevitable part of human existence. In itself suffering is bad, and God does not desire that man should suffer because it was not in his original plan. But it takes a different dimension when it is lived with faith in God. Jesus suffered not because it is good to suffer but because it is a necessary path to the redemption of man who brought suffering and death upon himself through sin. While the first reading describes the experience of the suffering servant of Yahweh who placed his trust in God his saviour; “I know I shall not be put to shame for he who grants me saving help is near” (Is 50:7-8), the Gospel tells us that the Son of man (Jesus) must suffer and die. But his suffering and death will not have the final word because God will eventually raise him up on the third day (Mk 8:31-32).
John Bergsma. "The Paradox of Discipleship" The Sacred Page. September 11, 2021 We have been getting a number of rousing challenges from Jesus in the past several weeks, as our readings have followed the progress of his ministry, and Jesus repeatedly makes clear that following him is not going to be easy in any way. This Sunday we get another challenge from Jesus to “fish or cut bait” in our relationship with him. Paradoxically, however, if we think we are going to preserve our lives and comfort by turning away from him, Jesus warns us: long term, that’s a bad strategy.
Fr. Robert Ombres. "By Way of the Cross" Torch. September 6, 2021 Today’s gospel is demanding. It is demanding because it makes us think about ourselves at a deep level, and because it makes demands on us. As Christians we are disciples of Christ, we take our most fundamental identity from being in him. Baptism, we believe, can never be undone and it changes us at a level so fundamental that it can be described as ontological. By baptism we die to our former selves and enter a new, risen life. What we believe about Christ literally, that he died and rose, is to be believed about ourselves sacramentally.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "The power of God versus human weaknesses" A Catholic Moment. July 4, 2021 Today’s readings introduce Jesus as a prophet and explain how prophets and other messengers from God inevitably suffer rejection. The readings challenge us to face rejection and hardship with prophetic courage.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "He calms our storms" A Catholic Moment. June 20, 2021 We can always triumph if we rely on the supreme power of God over destructive forces. John Newton used to be among the captains of the cargo ships carrying slaves from Africa to America. He never worried whether slave trade was right or wrong. It brought money, and that was just enough. One night during their sail, a raging storm blew hell at the sea.
Fr. John O'Connor. "Tossed by the Waves" Torch. June 15, 2021 When medieval artists and icon painters of the Eastern Christian tradition portrayed Jesus about to be baptised by John the Baptist, they often portrayed all sorts of strange and menacing sea creatures in the waters in which Jesus stood. This symbolised that, in accepting baptism, Jesus was acting in solidarity with the human condition, not least what threatens us.
John Ciribassi. "Offer It Up" A Catholic Moment. April 3, 2021 When I was a kid I often heard my Mother, Grandmother and Aunts say something like “Offer it up to God” if something went wrong or I was having a problem. I am not sure they knew what it meant. It was more of one of those Catholic “throw-away” lines that people used because it sounded like a good thing to say to someone who was having difficulties.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "The Kenosis of Christ" A Catholic Moment. March 28, 2021 The evangelists did not report the passion and death of Jesus just to stir our emotions rather they presented us Christ who gave up his life so that we might be saved. On this day, the Holy Mother, the Church celebrates the sixth Sunday of Lent known as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. It is the beginning of what we traditionally know as the Holy Week. The week-long celebrations are meant to re-present to us the great mystery of our salvation and thus invite us to embrace it for what it is that is, to relive the mystery. It is very important for us to know that what we are called to commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption.
John Bergsma. "My God! Why Have You Forsaken Me?" The Sacred Page. March 25, 2021 How could the Messiah die? Despite a few mysterious prophetic texts that seemed to intimate this possibility, the idea that the Messiah could arrive and subsequently be killed was radically counter-intuitive to most first-century Jews. Yet the conviction of the early Christians, based on Jesus of Nazareth’s own teachings about himself, was that the radically counter-intuitive impossibility was actually prophesied, if one had the eyes to see and the ears to hear it in Israel’s Scriptures.
Fr. Matthew Jarvis. "Simplify My Heart" Torch. March 18, 2021 ‘Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains alone.’ This mini-parable from Christ about the grain that dies, about losing our life in order to save it for eternity, forebodes his own impending death on the Cross. But how is it that we must die to avoid being alone? Isn’t it precisely death that makes us most completely alone?
John Bergsma. "Is Life a Drudgery?" The Sacred Page. February 7, 2021 Life is difficult, but it is neither helpful nor virtuous to utter expressions of stoic fatalism. The true virtue, the true courage, is to maintain hope (and also love and joy) in the face of what can sometimes look and feel like an ocean of darkness. This Sunday’s readings raise the problem of the great sorrows of life, the reverses, difficulties, and especially illnesses that can seem to sap life of all joy. Yet in the Gospel, Jesus travels through Galilee relieving the ills and oppressions which have reduced so many to a life of “drudgery.” The readings leave us to ponder, how is it that even today, Jesus still comes to us to heal our brokenheartedness, restoring joy and hope?
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Stick to your yes" A Catholic Moment. September 27, 2020 Our dealings with God always dangle between Yes and No. God cannot even trust any of our promises because we have always proven unfaithful to his love. But does that stop us from entering in relationship with God? No. God’s faithfulness is always contagious.
Rich Tarro. "Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. August 30, 2020 In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus lays out the conditions for discipleship: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Suffering is a part of life. We can’t escape it.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Sowing without limit" A Catholic Moment. July 12, 2020 How many Christians are truly living a productive spiritual lives? This question forms the central message of today’s liturgy of the word carefully chosen to activate in us a reflection on God’s continuous effort to help us produce fruits.The first reading is Isaiah’ account of how God professes his readiness to incarnate his Word in the lives of his people longing for liberation from the babylonian exile.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Fear not" A Catholic Moment. June 22, 2020 Those who prefer to live in darkness are always afraid of the light of God. And they often adopt the way of violence in order to make sure that the light is put off. The first reading presents the suffering of Jeremiah amidst an impious people who sought for a way to eliminate him so that their evil deeds will remain underground.
Fr. Matthew Jarvis. "He Cares" Torch. June 17, 2020 In April, Facebook introduced a new reaction emoji: Care. It’s the smiley hugging a heart. Long gone are the days when a tragic or angry message would get the ambiguous ‘Like’ as the only non-verbal reaction: was that sympathy or Schadenfreude, we used to wonder. Facebook later introduced a limited range of alternative reactions – Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry – but now we can show we Care.
Fr. Leo Shea, MM. "Holy Trinity Sunday" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. June 7, 2020 During a time of great hardship, and uncertainty, Moses bowed down and prayed, “If I find favor with you, Oh Lord, do come along in our company and receive us as your own.” Today, we truly need God’s accompaniment, and especially God’s healing graces to cure our physical sicknesses and our social ills.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "Waiting in Prayer" A Catholic Moment. May 24, 2020 The end of Easter Season is very close as we could see it even from our directions. The Ascension of the Lord into heaven opens another important moment meant to perfect the Easter festivity; the Pentecost. The Pentecost not only concludes the Pascal mystery that reaches its “summum punctum” at Easter, but it equally perpetuates it.
John Bergsma. "Christ’s Prayer for Unity" The Sacred Page. May 22, 2020 Holy Mother Church offers as an intriguing theme in these Readings the paradoxical relationship between glory and suffering. We find these two motifs expressed particularly in the Second Reading and Gospel.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "I will send you the Paraclete" A Catholic Moment. May 17, 2020 We have all lived this year’s Lent as a complete desert experience, and the Easter season in total restriction with no possibility of liturgical gathering. Now the Easter light is gradually going off, yet we still feel the Lenten desert experience within us.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "He enters Jerusalem" A Catholic Moment. April 5, 2020 On this Sixth Sunday of Lent, the Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. The Liturgy of the Word begins with a triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and closes with a narration of His passion. These two parallel events taking place in successive chronology is a reminder that Jesus is a triumphant King who gained His victory through the cross.
Fr. John O'Connor. "Jesus's Solidarity" Torch. January 16, 2020 When people think of Jesus’s solidarity with us imperfect human beings, they tend to focus on the extreme moments, when Jesus’s humanity was pushed to its limits. These were times when Jesus was most vulnerable, when his self-sacrifice out of love for us was most apparent. We think, for example, of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert when experiencing the greatest imaginable hunger.
Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM. "Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. October 6, 2019 In recent years there has been what I call an accelerated displacement and untold suffering of people around the world due to violence, human trafficking, the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, unequal distribution of resources, the gross misconduct of some of the Church leadership, among others.
Rick Dixon. "Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. September 29, 2019 Our Gospel today offers a critical study on the art of listening, and more precisely to whom and how we listen. “[The rich man] said, ‘… I beg you to send [Lazarus] to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’
Sr. Ann Hayden, MM. "Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. August 25, 2019 Today’s scripture readings speak to God’s fidelity and steadfast love for us, as mentioned in Psalm 117.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "God our guest" A Catholic Moment. July 21, 2019 In the quest to concretize our reflection, I deemed it fitting to share an observation which may be familiar with most of us.
John Bergsma. "Entertaining God" The Sacred Page. July 18, 2019 This Sunday, as we continue to accompany Jesus on his fateful journey to Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke, we are confronted with a pair of Readings in which human beings host a meal for God: Abraham for the LORD in the First Reading; Martha and Mary for Jesus in the Gospel. But is it really possible for us to “do God a favor” by giving him a nice meal? We are going to discover that, while God graciously accepts our services, it’s really about what God does for us, not what we can do for him.
Joseph LaCombe. "Belief in His Mercy" A Catholic Moment. April 28, 2019 Uncertainty. Isolation. Hurt.
Fr. David Goodill. "Gripped by Fear" Torch. April 17, 2019 Christ crucified is the one thing we have to preach, yet this one thing encompasses all. Fr. Matthew (Matty) Rigney O.P. once told me how as a young priest he was terrified to preach his first sermon. One of the older priests in his community helped him to overcome his fears; yes, preaching is terrifying, no one wants to tell people they have to be crucified with Christ. This is what we preach. Only by sharing in Christ’s death can we come to the glory of his resurrection.
Kathryn Seib Vargas. "Palm Sunday" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. April 14, 2019 Today’s liturgy offers a preview of the week’s events, beginning with Jesus entering Jerusalem amid admiration and acclamations for his miracles and success. We then move to the stab of betrayal, to abandonment by most of his closest human contacts, to his condemnation by deceit-ridden power structures, and finally ending in death by crucifixion, one of the most heinous and cruel capital punishments ever invented.
Fr. Sacha Bermundez-Goldman, SJ. "Third Sunday of Easter" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. April 14, 2019 I call my mother every day—every morning around 5:30 a.m, to be more precise—which is around 12 noon (of the previous day!) where she lives. We usually speak for about ten minutes. Actually, I speak and mum listens. My mother has suffered from a degenerative neurological disease for over a decade and in the last couple of years she has not been able to speak more than a couple of words at a time. Most of the time she is not able to say anything at all.
Fr. Peter Harries. "God Is." Torch. March 21, 2019 Bad news travels fast. The tower at Siloam in Jerusalem fell killing people. Shoddy building work? Perhaps? Some disturbance in the temple? Pilate’s solution as colonial ruler was to kill a few people – keep the locals in order by fear. Disasters happen and people, good and bad alike, get killed. We should plan to minimise known risks, although building regulations may be costly to enforce, and adequate policing expensive. The news of the terrorist attack in New Zealand last week horrified us all.
Fr. James Kroeger, MM. "Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. October 21, 2018 The young mother’s face beamed as she held her week-old baby in her arms. It was clear that this was the joy of her life. The mother’s entire world was focused on her newborn. The scene exuded joy, contentment, and fulfillment.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "Bridging the Unbridgeable Gap" ronrolheiser.com. September 17, 2018 Abraham speaks these words to a soul in hell in the famous parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16, 19-21) and they are generally understood to mean that there exists between heaven and hell a gap that’s impossible to bridge. Nobody passes from hell to heaven. Hell is forever and no amount of regret or repentance there will get you to heaven. Indeed, once in hell, nobody in heaven can help you either, the gap between the two is eternally fixed!
Fr. Robert Gay. "Future Proof" Torch. September 12, 2018 There’s little doubt about it: life can sometimes be hard. No matter how much we try to avoid difficulty and suffering on a day to day basis, whether through our attempts to live a healthy life, the material comforts we surround ourselves with, however many prayers we may say, we can’t completely ‘future proof’ ourselves against suffering. We live in a fallen and finite world, and we know that any efforts to keep ourselves from physical suffering and death are merely delaying tactics. And of course, there’s the parts of our lives that we have little control over, such as the actions of others, not to mention the forces of nature, which can cause so much damage.
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.
Tim Ross. "Good Friday" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. March 30, 2018 The suffering and death of Christ offers an answer to one of the greatest questions humanity has posed to God. It is a question asked of the Lord every time innocents suffer, their life and happiness torn away by powers outside of their control.
Fr. John Patrick Kenrick. "Learning to Obey God" Torch. March 14, 2018 Today’s Gospel sets the scene for the forthcoming drama of Holy Week. Jesus is, in effect, telling his disciples both that his work of preaching is over and also – something difficult to grasp – that a final cosmic battle with Satan is about to begin. This battle will involve his death, but that death will be unimaginably fruitful in defeating evil and granting his followers access to eternal life.
Fr. David Sanders. "Light in the Darkness" Torch. February 21, 2018 Saint Peter must have felt relief by his experience of the Transfiguration. A few verses before in Mark’s Gospel he had really been deflated by Christ’s words to him. Why? Peter in a moment of revelation had publicly acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. And no doubt he had seen the implications of this announcement for himself. He could see himself as Christ’s right hand man in a thriving Kingdom of God. But then Jesus had added words which Peter did not want to hear. He prophesied that there would indeed be glory in a resurrection after three days but before this Jesus must suffer grievously through public rejection and death.
Fr. Leo Edgar. "Poor Old Job!" Torch. January 31, 2018 Poor old Job! You can't help feeling sorry for the man. Despite all his protestations and prayers, God seems to be ignoring his requests! Why, I wonder, does the Church introduce us to Job's suffering so early in this year's Liturgical Calendar, and so close to the beginning of Lent in ten days time? A reading from the prophet Job only appears once in the Sunday scripture readings, so why now? If my memory serves me right, before the Second Vatican Council changes, we never got to hear the story of Job at all.
Sr. Betty Ann Maheu, MM. "Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. July 9, 2017 Have you ever felt like screaming, “Enough, Lord, I can’t take it anymore?” or “I’m so tired, so weary, so overburdened?” or “It’s not fair! It’s unjust! or What have I done to deserve this?”
Joseph LaCombe. "Through the Doors of Your Heart" A Catholic Moment. April 22, 2017 Imagine yourself in that room with the disciples. They’re so distraught, not sure what to think. The pain and sorrow and ache they feel deep inside is almost unbearable. They have lost a friend. They have lost the one that they had so much hope in. Hope that He would save them all. But perhaps, more tangibly at that point – they have lost a brother. One who had become their teacher, their mentor.
Laura Kazlas. "The Lord is in Our Midst" A Catholic Moment. March 19, 2017 First of all, I would like to apologize to our readers for the delay in publishing this reflection prior to Sunday. To be honest, my daughter tripped and fell and has a concussion, and my family unexpectedly had to rush to another city an hour away to take care of our daughter and her newborn baby too.
Joseph LaCombe. "Hope Through Others" A Catholic Moment. November 5, 2016 This world is so darn hard sometimes. Too often for many people. We’re navigating our way through it the best we know how, the way we were taught. And really, it’s only through the reliance on others, the relationships we have with other people – our families, good friends, our spouses, our fellow parishioners – that will get us through it.
Kathy McNeely. "27th Sunday in Ordinary Time" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. October 2, 2016 While a lot has happened since 1996 when I left Guatemala, the lament from Habakkuk, “how long shall I cry for help,” remains on the lips of many Guatemalans still struggling to see justice prevail in their tiny country. One of the latest heartbreaking incidents was the murder of two children (aged 9 and 13) most likely at the hands of people trying to threaten indigenous activists who have protested against development projects that exploit the natural resources in their community.
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.
Bob Short. "Feast of the Assumption" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. August 15, 2016 Women are the protagonists in three of the four readings for today’s Feast of the Assumption. Empowerment, sustenance and blessings for those who align with God’s ways are themes present in all them. For our part, where we live, with whom we associate, and how expansively we relate to the world will have a good deal to do with the extent to which we understand and incorporate these readings into our own lives.
Sr. Euphrasia Nyaki, MM. "Pentecost Sunday" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. May 15, 2016 A few years ago, the municipal government invited a team of us who work with women in the periphery of the city of João Pessoa to help in the formation of a women’s group in the newest section of the city. This particular section of the city has a special connotation since it is the area where the local government just finished a land and housing settlement for a number of communities. We were invited to work in this area because it is known to be especially violent.
Joseph LaCombe. "Calming the Global Storm" A Catholic Moment. June 21, 2015 As I am writing this, we are sitting in the aftermath of another mass shooting and murder here in America. Nine people were killed in brutal fashion yesterday in Charleston, S.C., in their church of all places, conducting a peaceful and loving bible study. They were the victims of a hate crime, and an act of terrorism. Pure and simple.
Fr. Robert Verrill. "No Clichés in Christ" Torch. February 3, 2015 When it comes to clichés, perhaps one of the most archetypal of all is the cliché 'life is just one damned thing after another.' A cliché of course is a common expression that has lost all its freshness and meaning through overuse, and this is certainly true of the 'one damned thing' saying. Through frequent repetition over the last hundred years, this saying has become very dull, but what's more, repetition and dullness seem to be the very subject matter of this cliché. The 'damned things' that keep happening in life are just the kind of things that atheists will point to in claiming that life is devoid of meaning, that there is no God: life is just one damned thing after another.
Fr. Peter Hunter. "Why Do We Suffer?" Torch. March 30, 2014 There is something deeply mysterious about suffering. One thing is certain: ultimately, God does not want suffering for us. In Heaven, every tear will be wiped away, and when God came among us as a man, he relieved suffering. So why do we still suffer?
Fr. Dominic White. "Things in Heaven and Things on Earth" Torch. November 24, 2013 “It’s not the end of the world!” Everywhere I’ve travelled, people say this. For our world to end would be a disaster: it would be the end of everything familiar, everything we know. The trouble is that when suffering comes to us – losing our job, relationship break-up, illness, bereavement, or a global disaster like the Philippines typhoon – we can indeed feel it’s the end of our world.
Laura Kazlas. "Words of Peace, Love and Healing" A Catholic Moment. July 7, 2013 What beautiful, peaceful and consoling words are in the first reading for mass today. These scripture passages from the book of Isaiah are filled with images of happiness, peace and contentment. Simple, joyful words written in love, for a people who loved God’s holy city of Jerusalem. These words are a celebration of life and a sense of how much God loves us. We are His children and He cares for us more lovingly than a mother does her own child.
Sr. Marion Hughes, MM. "Good Friday" Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. March 29, 2013 Today’s reading follows the path Jesus took to heal humankind from sin. Isaiah states in chapter 53:5, 12: “… upon him was the punishment that made us whole and by his bruises we are healed … yet he bore the sins of many, and made intersessions for the transgressors.” Hebrews reinforces the suffering that Jesus endured for our sins and the trust he had in His Father that enabled him to suffer.
Fr. Robert Gay. "Daily Conversion" Torch. March 3, 2013 The Holy Week liturgies of the passion which we will celebrate in a few weeks time include the reading and singing of the passion narratives. And when we hear those passion stories we get quite an insight into the character of Pontius Pilate. In particular, we see him as the unjust coward, who didn’t have the guts, or perhaps even the inclination, to do the right thing. But other sources from that time show that he was much more than just a coward. The Jewish historian Josephus portrays him as a man who went out of his way to disturb and offend the Jewish population, especially when it came to their religious practice.
Fr. Richard Finn. "Poison and Antidote" Torch. March 25, 2012 John's Gospel is building to a show-down. You can feel the rising tension. The Pharisees are watching for an opportunity to attack Jesus. And as they complain in the verse immediately preceding our passage, Jesus is increasingly the focus of wider attention: 'the world has come after him'. At Cana, at the outset of his public ministry, Jesus told his Mother that his 'hour' had not yet come. Now, he tells us, it is here.
Fr. Duncan Campbell. "A Disciple" Torch. March 18, 2012 In this Gospel we have Jesus talking in an unusual way to an unusual man. When we hear Jesus speaking, usually to crowds, it is loud and clear, even if he speaks always in parables. These are puzzles, simple stories, that we won't forget, but we have to grow to understand. John must have remembered this conversation with such an important person. The other occasion John remembered was the Last Supper discourse.
Fr. Leo Edgar. "Absolutely Clear" Torch. August 27, 2011 I realise that as soon as you read this opening line, there is a risk that you will stop reading any further! Whenever I myself hear this phrase used (and we seem to hear it more and more often these days from those who wish us to believe what they tell us)
Fr. Peter Clarke. "A Tortured Relationship" Torch. September 13, 2009 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine….' To me this is one of the most crucial statements in the whole of the Gospels. It forces me to ask myself how much it means to me to be a follower of Jesus. Am I prepared to give what it takes? We have read of Jesus asking his disciples, 'You, who do you say I am?' Peter's replied, 'You are the Christ!' with the title 'Christ' being loaded with all the understandings and expectations of a people that had being nourished on the Prophetic Word of God.
Fr. Theodore Taylor. "Keeping Company with the Lord" Torch. March 29, 2009 Jesus is near his end in the gospel of today. The acclamation of Palm Sunday is over and the crowds melt away. Jewish plotting for his arrest is stealthily working. What precipitates his words, 'Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified', is the approach for the first time in his ministry of Greeks (Gentiles) seeking him out. It was 'to gather into one the dispersed children of God' that Jesus was to die.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "The Problem of Suffering and Evil" ronrolheiser.com. September 14, 2008 How can there be an all-loving and an all-powerful God if there is so much suffering and evil in our world?
Ron Rolheiser, OMI. "Coping with Tragedy" ronrolheiser.com. November 4, 2007 Several years ago, late on a Sunday night, I received an email from one of my nephews. Three of his close friends had just been killed in a senseless automobile accident. He was beside himself with grief, and with questions: “Why?” “What does one say in a situation like this?” “What do you say to their families?”
Fr. Fabian Radcliffe. "The Coming of the Son of Man" Torch. December 3, 2006 This is just one of several grim scripture passages that we read at Mass at this time of year. It may seem strange to be doing this when we are beginning to look forward to Christmas. But it is also the low point of the year, the time of darkness, cold and sickness, and that may remind us how we often think pessimistically of the future of the world as an impending disaster. In the 1960s and ’70s there was deep anxiety that nuclear war would destroy human life.
Fr. Martin Ganeri. "Do You Not Care?" Torch. June 25, 2006 Some years back, just a few weeks after being ordained a priest, I found myself chaplain for a month at one of the London hospitals. One day I was called to the bedside of a young boy dying of cancer. His parents were there and we all sat together for the last few hours of his life.
Fr. Richard Finn. "A New Sabbath" Torch. February 5, 2006 In his grief Job takes a grim view of our lot. Genesis told how Adam and Eve had been created in God's image, to share in his rule, to co-operate freely in the creation. But now Job sees life as servitude. Sitting among the ashes of his past good fortune, he has come to see the world through the eyes of Israel's pagan neighbours and enemies. It was they who thought the gods made human beings as so many slaves.
Fr. Robert Eccles. "So great was their joy" Torch. May 4, 2003 When we became believers - we could say also for some of us, when we were invited to follow in the footsteps of St Dominic - it was not in order to follow a rule of life, however holy. It was to taste this joy. It was to be set free from the darkness that overshadows human living, set free to share a joy, a joy that no one can take from us. If we are believers but cannot imagine this Paschal joy, we have something to learn.
Fr. Thomas Crean. "It was necessary..." Torch. April 14, 2002 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things?
Fr. Gordian Marshall. "A Sermon that Heals" Torch. February 11, 2001 Suffering, loneliness, illness are things that nobody wants. We do our best to get rid of them. Doctors, nurses, researchers, social workers, people with clear religious commitment and people with none, faith-healers, rationalists – all strive to rid the world of its problems. It is an effort which unites so many people from different places and backgrounds, although there are plenty of squabbles along the way about whose method is best.
Fr. Lawrence Obilor. "God and the Suffering Humanity" A Catholic Moment. What conclusion do we usually draw when we reflect on the ‘whyness’ of human suffering? Naturally nobody desires suffering. It is scary to cohabit with it. It humiliates. This was the experience of Job in today’s first reading. However, the reading challenges us to avoid Job’s pessimistic and desperate view of life as a chain of pain and sufferings and to accept life with hope and optimism as a precious gift from God, using it to do good for others and spending our time, talents and lives for others as Jesus did in the Gospel and as Paul demonstrated in his relationship with the Corinthians in the second reading. Most importantly, the Gospel is full of hope because it tells us that suffering does not have the final word in our lives. Jesus is capable of subduing every pain we have under his authority. We are therefore encouraged to always hand over our worries, our sufferings and pains to Him who alone can change the story of our lives. The salvation He brings is for all. That is why He must certainly cross to the other side unrestrained. He crosses to our towns and villages today. Are we ready to allow Him to meet us?
Fr. Juan P. Ruiz. "The Steep Cost of Not-Discipleship" Juan Point at a Time. September 22, 2022 We often hear of the cost of discipleship, but it perhaps is not so high a price to pay when one considers the steep cost that can come with avoiding discipleship. And above that, the benefits only tip the scales further in favor of discipleship.
Rev. Msgr. Hans Brouwers. "Homily" St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. October 17, 2021
Bishop Robert Barron. "God Suffers for Us" Word on Fire. September 12, 2021 Friends, with our readings from this weekend, we are on very holy ground because we’re dealing with the imagery, symbolism, and theology of the suffering servant. Yes, he is the one who will bring God’s salvation to all the world, but he will do it by bearing the pain and suffering of the world.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Why is Life So Full of Suffering?" Word on Fire. June 20, 2021 Friends, the book of Job is one of the most profound and most challenging books in the entire Bible. In today’s reading, we see that God does not hand-wave away Job’s suffering. Rather, the Lord places profound hurt and heartache in an infinitely greater context—into his loving providence. We must not narrow our focus on our pain; we must rather open ourselves to ever greater trust.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Strangeness of God" Word on Fire. September 20, 2020 Our very brief first reading is taken from the magnificent fifty-fifth chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah. This section of Isaiah—which stretches from chapter forty through chapter fifty-five—is one of the most theologically sophisticated and illuminating passages in the entire Old Testament. Nowhere is Israel’s theology of God more fully and clearly developed. And one of the principal points made in this section is that God is incomparable. Over and over again, Isaiah insists that God is radically other; that he is like no other being, even the most exalted.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Suffering for Doing Good" Word on Fire. May 3, 2020 For this fourth Sunday of Easter, I would like to concentrate on our second reading, which is from the first letter of Peter, a beautiful text that we consult only rarely in the course of the liturgical calendar. It seems eminently clear from the totality of this letter that it was written to a suffering, probably persecuted, Church. Therefore, how to deal with adversity, negativity, even the threat of death was an existential concern of this community. Peter gives his readers an extraordinary and deeply Christian principle: Belov
Bishop Robert Barron. "Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed" Word on Fire. October 6, 2019 Last week, I plunged for the second time into the world of the Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). I can’t tell you how many participants in the AMA posed some version of this question: How could an all-loving God possibly countenance so much violence, suffering, and pain? Most questioners turned up the heat by putting special emphasis on the suffering of children and of the innocent. Every single major theologian has wrestled with the issue, as well as many of our most important artists. And our first reading clearly indicates that people in biblical times wrestled with the very same issue.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Substitutionary Sacrifice" Word on Fire. October 21, 2018 Friends, all three readings for this weekend center around a theme that was very familiar to the ancient audiences who first took them in but that is rather alien to us. I’m talking about the theme of substitutionary sacrifice. A very basic problem that we have when we seek to understand this idea is that we are marked, through and through, by a strong individualism: everyone acts and speaks for himself and takes responsibility for his own actions. But ancient people lived within a far more collective or corporate consciousness.
Msgr. Brouwers. "Homily" St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. October 21, 2018
Richard Rohr. "CONSPIRE 2018: Iona Liturgy Homily" Center for Action and Contemplation. September 1, 2018
Richard Rohr. "She saves Herself by Trusting" Center for Action and Contemplation. July 1, 2018
Fr. Stephen Thorne. "Come To Jesus" St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. July 1, 2018
Richard Rohr. "Not who Suffers the Most, but who Loves the Most" Center for Action and Contemplation. July 1, 2017
Richard Rohr. "True Goodness is Normally Persecuted" Center for Action and Contemplation. June 25, 2017
Richard Rohr. "Feast of Corpus Christi—One Body, One Suffering, One Happiness" Center for Action and Contemplation. May 28, 2016
Richard Rohr. "Two different starting points" Center for Action and Contemplation. September 20, 2015
Richard Rohr. "There is Only One suffering/Only One happiness" Center for Action and Contemplation. September 13, 2015
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Spirituality of Pain" Word on Fire. February 8, 2015 Why would an all-powerful and all-loving God allow his people to suffer so much? That’s one of the oldest and most difficult theological questions. Our first reading from Job and our Gospel from Mark provide some fascinating answers.
Bishop Robert Barron. "But for Wales…?" Word on Fire. August 31, 2014 All must be aware of the possibility of losing one’s soul in pursuit of gaining the world. One will inevitably face opposition from the world. Will you give in? Christ’s demand of love is difficult and many do not want to follow it because it entails suffering. But in order to follow Christ you must consciously and purposely walk the path of suffering love.
Richard Rohr. "Unjust Suffering/The Welcoming Prayer" Center for Action and Contemplation. May 11, 2014
Richard Rohr. "Presentation of the Lord in the Temple" Center for Action and Contemplation. February 2, 2014
Bishop Robert Barron. "True Ambition" Word on Fire. October 21, 2012 In today’s Gospel, the apostles James and John ask Jesus to be given positions of glory in Christ’s kingdom. Jesus reminds us that His moment of glory is His death on the Cross, and that if we want to partake in this glory we must commit to a self-sacrificing love, not a self aggrandizing ambition.
Richard Rohr. "Non-Training for Servanthood" Center for Action and Contemplation. October 21, 2012
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Bread of Life, The Body of Christ" Word on Fire. August 12, 2012 Today’s readings are from First Kings and the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. Our passage for this weekend discusses the Eucharist as the necessary antidote for spiritual exhaustion. We all need the Body of Christ to nourish our souls and keep us in communion with God.
Bishop Robert Barron. "A Thorn in the Flesh: Why We Suffer" Word on Fire. July 8, 2012 Saint Paul conveys a unique and powerful perspective on suffering. What he called a “thorn in the flesh,” was a suffering so great that it burdened him, prompted him to beg God for relief. But it is in this sort of suffering that we most acutely understand God’s love. When all falls away, we have him, we cling to him and we are saved. And when we bear suffering leveled by others and offer it to Christ, we absorb it, we take it out of circulation, and ease the burden for others.
Richard Rohr. "Easter Sunday 2012" Center for Action and Contemplation. April 8, 2012
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Suffering Servant" Word on Fire. October 18, 2009 This Sunday’s readings highlight the idea of redemptive suffering. The revelation of Christ changes our disposition towards the difficulties of life, filling these experiences with the potential for goodness. In his Incarnation, Christ did not evade the often harsh realities of human experience, but he accepted them, knowing that he would be with us in all things. The challenge for us is that in the face of the inevitable challenges of life is this: will we accept hardship as an occasion to grow in holiness and deepen our relationship with the Lord.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Remaining Attentive to the Lord" Word on Fire. August 9, 2009 The first reading for this Sunday is taken from the Old Testament Book of Kings. In this reading we are introduced to the Prophet Elijah, who is nearing the end of his mission. This particular scripture has much wisdom to share with us in regards to our own passage through the mid point of our lives and the necessity of remaining attentive to the Lord and open to his purposes.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Dealing With the Mess" Word on Fire. April 5, 2009 Life is grim. It is marked by conflict, division, inextricably difficult situations. And brooding over all of it is the fact of death. How do we deal with this mess? We can’t, but God can. In Christ, he takes on the dysfunction and sin of the world and takes it away through the divine mercy. Walk through the Passion narrative with this idea in mind.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Problem of Suffering" Word on Fire. August 31, 2008 Most of the great religions and philosophies of the world center around the issue of suffering. Stoicism, Buddhism, Platonism all propose different paths to overcome suffering. Jesus proposes to his disciples the distinctively Christian path of embracing suffering in the act of self-sacrificial love.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Birth Pangs of the Messiah" Word on Fire. November 18, 2007 Our readings for today are apocalyptic, which means that they describe the end of an old world and the beginning of a new one. The new world in question is the world of Christ’s lordship. To enter into that spiritual space, we have to go through earthquake, famine, and war. But this is, finally good news!
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Lament of Habakkuk" Word on Fire. October 7, 2007 The prophet Habbakuk expresses what most of us feel at some point in our lives: how can God be so indifferent to suffering? Listen carefully to the answer he receives from the Lord.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The Lessons of Qoheleth" Word on Fire. August 5, 2007 Both our first reading and Gospel function as a slap in the face, cold water, a wake-up call. They show how passing, ephemeral, and unreliable are the goods of this world. The idea is to set our hearts, as Paul says, on the higher things, rooting our lives in God.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Paul’s Suffering" Word on Fire. July 22, 2007 Paul says in our second reading that he “makes up in his own sufferings what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.” This means that Paul-and all of us-have the enormous privilege of participating in the act by which Christ saved the world, an act of suffering love. How do you interpret your own pain? Might it be a participation in the salvation of Christ?
Bishop Robert Barron. "Christ the High Priest" Word on Fire. November 12, 2006 For the past several weeks, we have been reading from the extraordinary letter to the Hebrews, the principal theme of which is the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Jesus can be the ultimate bridge-builder between God and us, precisely because in his own person he reconciles divinity and humanity. True God and true man, Christ is true priest.
Bishop Robert Barron. "The True Davidic Messiah" Word on Fire. September 17, 2006 Another homily from Fr. Robert Barron and Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Redemptive Suffering" Word on Fire. April 17, 2005 We hear this week from the Apostle Peter, speaking to the Christian community about redemptive suffering. This is the suffering that comes from doing what is right, even in the face of opposition. What it accomplishes is redemption, that is to say, “buying back” for God the one who perpetrates the injustice. No one in our own American tradition understood this principle–and put it into practice–more thoroughly than Martin Luther King.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Living Bread" Word on Fire. August 10, 2003 Another homily from Fr. Robert Barron and Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Bishop Robert Barron. "Perseverance Produces Character" Word on Fire. July 6, 2003 Another homily from Fr. Robert Barron and Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
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. "A Sower Went Out to Sow" Word on Fire. July 14, 2002 God is a farmer who sows the seed of his love liberally, on good and bad soil, to saint and sinner alike. There is no limit to God’s willingness to save. If we are the least bit cooperative, the grace of God will cause life to spring up in us thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold.
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.
Romans 8:18 "Focused on God, Not Suffering" If our priority is on ourselves instead of God why do we think we can endure suffering?
Nehemiah 8:10 "Rejoicing in God and Not Saddened" Do we realize that only relying on Jesus can deliver us from all pain and suffering?
Psalm 126:2 "In God There Is Joy" Are we letting our problems dominate our hope in God’s joy?
Psalm 146:8 "God Raised Me" Are we allowing God to lift us up past our troubles and suffering?
Matthew 14:12 "Take It to Jesus" When life over burdens us, do we take it to Jesus or do we try to deal it all by ourselves?
Matthew 12:15 "Jesus Walks Away" Are we following after Jesus or are we dwelling in the evils of the world?
Matthew 5:44 "Praying for Enemies" Although it is difficult, we as Christians must love our enemies.
John 19:27 "Behold Your Mother" Can we listen to Jesus' guidance in times of pain?