November 1, 2021 at St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, FL
Revelations 7, 2-4, 9-14 + Psalm 24 + 1 John 3, 1-3 + Matthew 5, 1-12
Halloween has nearly eclipsed All Saints Day. The secular world seems to think that Halloween is what it’s all about. Rather than being the night to prepare for a celebration, it has become the celebration. Instead of being about life, it’s turned into a spooky time with goblins and skeletons. But we are in this church because we know the difference. We know that Christ conquered the powers of darkness and those who really believe can use Halloween to mock fear and death with laughter and fun. … more »
After countless unpleasant arguments and trick questions in an effort to trap Jesus, this is a rare and pleasant moment. The two agree with another. The scribe is “not far from the kingdom of God” Jesus says, but something is lacking. Why is he so close, but not quite there? For Mark in this Gospel, what is missing is the following of Jesus on the way and all the way to the cross. What’s missing, in other words, is commitment to discipleship. The kingdom of God is not agreeing on the right answers, important as the search for truth is. … more »
This is the final miracle of Mark’s Gospel, and the consequence is a profound act of faith. In front of the disciples and the crowd, Bartimaeus pronounced his creed. This man, blind from birth, may not have sight, but he can see alright. He can see what those disciples have been blind to. He can see the “Son of David”, the shepherd King that prophets spoke of. He can see how to get free from everything that holds him back. He is not really the blind man. We are.
We have an odd way of using that word, “see.” We often use it to express understanding as when someone might say: “I see what you mean.” All four of the evangelists use sight as a way of expressing faith. … more »
October 17, 2021 The Divine Liturgy in the Maronite Rite at Mary, Mother of Light Maronite Church in Tequesta, FL
Philippians 2, 12-18 + Matthew 25, 1-13
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! … more »
Whenever this incident is told in the proclamation of the Gospel, I am always struck by the contrast suggested to us by these two ambitious and self-serving disciples who want to be on the left and right of Jesus. Their denial and almost deliberate refusal to even imagine what Jesus has been saying to them is to their shame as we are left to wonder where they were and how it is that two criminals end up to the right and left of Jesus when he enters into the presence of the Father. … more »
October 10, 2021 at Mary, Mother of Light Maronite Parish in Tequesta, FL
1 Thessalonians 5,1-11 + Matthew 24, 45-51
Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed”, and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. … more »
Last week, in a confrontation with the Pharisees, Jesus made it clear that simply keeping the law or observing the rules was no guarantee of a “free ticket” to the Kingdom of God. While he never explicitly said what was more important than the law, he spoke about relationships and finished that episode by blessing some children and confirming that they were the ones who were blessed and had a place in the Kingdom.
This week, Mark’s Gospel gets more specific having Jesus clearly state what must happen over and above keeping the law. … more »
After all these years since Jesus encountered those Pharisees, we have not come very far when it comes to morality and human behavior. What leads me to this observation is that, like the Pharisees, we are still asking the wrong questions when it comes to choices. “Is it lawful?” they ask. In spite of everything they have heard from Jesus, they still think that the perfect observance or keeping of the law is what matters. There is only one question that must guide us: “What does God want?” Of course, for too many, that question is too hard because it implies a relationship with God and a desire to do God’s will. … more »