Thursday, January 28, 2016

Syrian Christians

I began today to use the Acts of the Apostles for Scripture meditation.  I started with the end of chapter 15 where St. Paul begins his second missionary journey in Antioch.  With Syria so much in the news, it's good to remind ourselves how important that country was in the very earliest days of Christianity.  In fact, it was there that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. I suppose, though most of the Arabs fleeing Syria now are Muslims, many of them are Christians.
In the first parish where I was pastor I took communion to several Arabs whose families had been in this country since the early 20th century.  One old woman used a prayer book which was in Arabic.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Love Inspires Everything

St. Paul's hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13 is by far the most popular reading for weddings, but the love Paul praises is not romantic love.  It is the gracious, unearned love with which God loves us and expects us to pass on to others.  God loves us, not because of who we are, but because of who God is.  God enables us to love others not because of who they are, but because God's unearned love within us pushes us out in love for all human beings.
This hymn to love as the 2nd reading this Sunday illuminates the Gospel's emphasis on universal salvation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


On Sundays this year we are reading from the Gospel According to Luke.  There are four Gospels because each Gospel writer has his own view of Jesus and his message.  We find out what Luke's view is by noting what he adds that the others don't have and what they have that Luke leaves out.  Luke 4:21-30 is an excellent example.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe Jesus' being rejected by the people of his hometown Nazareth.   Only Luke has Jesus add that the great prophet Elijah helped a widow who was not Jewish while many Jewish widows were starving; and the prophet Elisha cured the leprosy of the Syrian Naaman while there were plenty of lepers in Israel.  Luke wants us to see Jesus telling his townspeople that he has come for every human being, that the salvation he brings reaches beyond his own people.  Luke will stress this theme of universal salvation throughout his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Today's the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, my patron.  He was wholehearted in arresting the very earliest followers of Jesus and wholehearted in spreading the Gospel after his conversion.  God showed him that we could not earn God's love by obeying the Law.  Divine love is freely given.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Desperate at BWI

Two days before a Monday morning departure for my vacation I noticed that my passport had expired in July!  After days of worrying and phoning everyone I could  think of, a friend suggested that I call my congressman. I did and his office expedited the renewal of my passport.
Those days were among the most stressful in my life.  I kept asking God for help, but things looked bleak.  The experience gave me a new appreciation of how terrible it must be to feel completely hopeless.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sand to Snow

I am back from 8 days on St. Martin in the Caribbean.  All sun and sand and warm ocean.  I felt deeply grateful to be there after missing last year because of my heart attack.  I enjoy also being in a different culture.
St. Augustine said, "Travel is like a book.  Those who don't travel read only one page."
We arrived back here at 4:30 AM Friday, well before the snow started.  Right now it looks like it's about three feet deep.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Merry 10th Day of Christmas!

An sincere celebration of Christmas changes us.

Here is the sober end of T.S.Eliot's Journey of the Magi:
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death?
  There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt.
  I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different;
  this birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us,
  like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here,
  in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Merry 9th Day of Christmas!

The most profound meaning of the Incarnation was expressed by St. Athanasius in the 4th century:
God became man so that man might become God.