Exploring the Word

12 Apr 2020

Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday), Cycle A

Tell what you know

Witnesses in a courtroom are always admonished to tell what they know in precise and unembroidered terms: “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Compare this to Saint Paul’s championing of the “unleavened” truth in his words to the Corinthians.

5 Apr 2020

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Cycle A

I have a friend in Jesus

It has become a nearly dogmatic element of contemporary religious education to assert that Jesus is our friend. We teach this to children, herald it in devotional meditations, sing it in hymns, and hear it wafting down from pulpits far and wide.

29 Mar 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Using the “D” word

Try having a talk about death and see where it gets you. Talk to your parents about making a will, and they come up with a million reasons not to have this conversation. Scan the newspaper in time of war and count the euphemisms for the dead: “casualties,” “collateral damage,” “losses.”

22 Mar 2020

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Called, anointed, and empowered

The ritual is a strange one, as archaic rites tend to be when viewed from the distance of centuries and across cultures. An animal is sacrificed at the altar, and after much ceremony that is as precise as it is significant to the participants, a designated person steps forward to the presiding priest.

15 Mar 2020

Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

God, are you here?

The Israelites grumbling in the desert asked the right question, the only one that matters when you come right down to it: Is the Lord in our midst or not? If not, we might as well get what we can in this world and Commandments be damned.

8 Mar 2020

Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Climb every mountain

The Lenten terrain keeps changing. Last week, we crossed a desert. This week, we scale a mountain. No one said the journey of faith would be easy. But neither were we warned that this level of athleticism would be required.

1 Mar 2020

First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Conversations with the devil

When we read about them in Holy Writ, conversations with the devil seem eerie, dramatic, and singular. Consider Eve, standing naked at the tree, while the serpent insinuates itself around her heart with whispered words of unimagined greatness.

23 Feb 2020

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

So you want to be perfect!

As children most of us believed in perfection as an attainable goal. Maybe not our own particular perfection (I was never going to get an A in science!), but the finish line was clearly marked out and someone was going to cross it. We were literally schooled into the quest for perfection: defined as an A+, or 100 percent answered correctly, or the coveted 4.0 at the end of the term.

16 Feb 2020

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Do you love the law?

Few of us love the law. In a country that sometimes views government with hostility and authority with suspicion, our reflexive stance toward rules is to shred first, reconsider later. Maybe. Many of us don’t even read the operating instructions on what we buy, though our personal safety may be compromised: Just plug it in, hit the ON button, and hope for the best!

9 Feb 2020

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Lighting up the world

When I moved to the desert some years ago, my mother sent me an appropriate housewarming gift. It’s a little lamp molded at the base into an adobe-style house, with a matching lampshade bearing a pleasing Southwestern pattern. When you turn on the lamp, at first you get what’s expected: a wash of light under the lampshade.