These days, one of the most serious health problems in the country is obesity. Dieting has become a lifestyle, with its attendant choices: all protein and no carbs, or the other way around? Vegetarian or vegan? Many of us realize there is a complex array of issues underlying all this weight, some of which are emotional, psychological, economic, and a few that are hormonal.
Exploring the Word
Distinguishing between leaders and followers is a little harder than might be expected. At first glance, we are tempted to point out that the leader is the person out in front. Fair enough. But who or what is he or she following? What motivates the leader to take that particular direction in the first place?
My mother didn’t believe in training wheels. When all the other kids on the block were getting “two-wheeler” bikes to replace their tricycles, theirs came with an extra set of little wheels on the back—just in case. But my mother didn’t adhere to that worldview. “It won’t help you learn to balance,” she said. “And balance is everything.”
Back in seminary, we used to practice the art of debate for a semester, as a prerequisite for our first course in preaching. (Anybody who thinks debate has nothing to do with preaching ought to stand in the back of the church after Mass sometime and listen to people arguing with the homilist.) I remember the day our instructor passed out the positions for the next debate. I was assigned to participate in a discussion of political solutions to the problems of poverty in our community.
Years back, one unforgettable day I sat and watched my father as he died. There’s not much we can do for the people we love in this hour but pray and be present. I had recited all the mysteries of the Rosary, all the mysteries of life and love and suffering, during the weeks before his death. But after he was gone, I sat with his body and prayed only the glorious mysteries. In the end, we believe, all that’s left for the faithful is glory.
Interesting things happen when Jesus gets near water. It may turn into wine as it did at Cana, though that was atypical. A voice from heaven could make declarations of his favored status, as occurred near the Jordan. Healings might take place, as at the pools of Bethesda, or disciples could be made, as in Galilee.
There may be two main ways to get religion wrong. One is to presume it has nothing to do with the material world. So forget political and social realities, pray harder, and concentrate on the spiritual life because it’s the only forum that counts.
Ritual is a peculiar activity to engage in, truth be told. It is rarely organic; it does not spring wholly from instinct but must be chosen, interpreted, and imbued with significance. Religious ritual often includes antique words, symbols, and gestures that require conscious deliberation and participation to appreciate fully.
Certain verses in scripture make our hearts leap up and stand at attention, though perhaps for different reasons. Sometimes we are attracted to the excitement in the exclamations: “Let there be light!” “A child is born for us!” “He is risen; he is not here!”
“TLF” used to be the ultimate acronym, long before BFF came into vogue. Carved on trees under two sets of initials—and likely encompassed by a lopsided heart shape—“TLF” meant that these two persons so designated shared True Love Forever.