Wednesday, May 24, 2017

God is everywhere

The Advanced Catechism printed in 1901 asks, "Where is God?" and answers, "God is everywhere."   Once as I stood in our front yard when I was 6 or 7 and looked out over the valley and the hills and the sky, I remember thinking that all that was God and I was in God.  As I grew I more often thought of God as "up in Heaven," as did everyone I knew.  Even now on TV whenever someone talks of God, they look up.  That view may have worked for many people before space travel.  In our time this is a God who is easy to dismiss.
Now, more than ever, we have to take seriously our childhood answer, "God is everywhere."  We can find new images and metaphors in our modern view of the world that enable us to imagine where God is.  I find it very satisfying to imagine God right here but in another dimension invisible to us.  A Presence in us and around us that is personal, that knows us and loves us graciously.

Monday, May 22, 2017


The moment Jesus rises from the dead he is in the eternal world.  Like sunlight moving through the fog, the Risen Christ appears to his disciples off and on.  It's as if he can't say goodbye.  He has lived with these men and women; and, as a full human being, he has grown to love them.  There comes a day when he no longer appears to them. In the Spirit of Love he moves within them so that he can continue through them to touch others with his love.

Friday, May 19, 2017


Celebrating a 55th anniversary seems anti-climactic.  A 50th is the big deal.  55th?!  You still hanging around?! 
We cut that tree down.  We thought that was the end of it.  Look at all those new little signs of life sprouting out of it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


The word "paraclete" is one of the few words in  the New Testament that many translators simply  reproduce in an English sounding word.  It means something like "a person who stands alongside another."  Comparable English words might be advocate, intercessor, counsellor, protector, support.  In John's Gospel as Jesus bids his disciples farewell he says that he will send them "another paraclete" (14:16,) implying that he himself was the first paraclete.  In meditating on the Holy Spirit and on Jesus, I find it rewarding to consider them in each of these roles in my life and in the life of  the Church.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I shall make you a light to the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
This verse from Isaiah (49:6) is one of several in the Old Testament that clearly expresses God's will for universal salvation.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Room for Everybody

We believe that Jesus died and rose for the whole human race.  Jesus says "I am the Gate" (John 10:9,)  "I am the Way" (John 14:6.)  Science fiction might say "Jesus is the portal."  The point is that in rising Jesus makes an opening into the eternal world.  We used to say "opened the gates of heaven." That opening is wide enough to let the whole world through.
We are Christians, not so we will have an exclusive right to heaven, but so we can tell the whole world that Jesus loves us all and makes our lives right now worthwhile and wants every human being to be with him in eternal joy.
(clicking on the picture enables you to appreciate the newly arrived barn swallows)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Baffling Love

How baffling you are, oh Church,
and yet how I love you!
How you have made me suffer,
and yet how much I owe you!
I should like to see you destroyed,
and yet I need your presence.
You have given me so much scandal
and yet you have made me understand sanctity.
I have seen nothing in the world more
devoted to obscurity, more compromised,
more false, and I have touched nothing more pure,
more generous, more beautiful.
How often I have wanted to shut the doors
of my soul in your face, and how often
I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.

No, I cannot free myself from you, because
I am you,
although not completely.
And where should I go?

(Carlo Caretto, The God Who Comes)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Care for the Poor

The "Hellenists" were Jews from outside Palestine.  They had their own synagogues in Jerusalem and used the Greek translation of their Scriptures.  The "Hebrews" in their synagogues used the Hebrew translation.  The Jews who became Christian continued in similar separate communities.  Luke describes tension developing between the separate Christian communities over the daily distribution of food.  (Acts of the Apostles 6:1-8)
Besides noting that the Church experienced tensions from its very beginnings, it is also worth noticing that caring for the poor had already become an essential ministry of the Church.  We can point with pride to the saints through the centuries who were famous for their care of the poor.   With the coming of democracy people began to see  this as a government function, as well as a Church ministry.  Caring for the poor is not just a political issue but a moral obligation.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Farewell Promise

A stenographer would have been needed to take down everything John has Jesus say in his farewell address to his disciples, chapters 14-17.  As Matthew does in the Sermon on the Mount, John has gathered in these chapters, not only what Jesus said at the Last Supper, but also teachings from other times in his life.  Jesus seems suspended between heaven and earth, which gives the sermon a timeless character. 
He starts with what has become a famous line, "In my Father's house there are many mansions."  He tells his disciples that he is going to the eternal world to prepare a place for them and will come back to take them there with him.  This promise takes the edge off his departure and has been a comfort to Christians down through the ages whose loved ones have passed to the other world.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Speaking of Intimcy...

"My friends tell me that I have a problem with intimacy, but they don't really know me."
(a quote from a TV comedian that I kept on the wall near my desk for many years.)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Human Intimacy

I am inclined to think that as we grow in our ability to be intimate with others, we are able to grow in our intimacy with Jesus.  I hope all of us have experienced the joy of feeling deeply understood by another human being and of coming to understand them in very deep way.  Usually it happens between husband and wife.  There are also a few others who come into our lives with whom it happens.  We feel inclined to get to know them better and to let them know us better.  We feel closer to them than to our other friends.  We are thrilled that someone could know so many of our faults and still love us. 
Jesus knows our name and we recognize his voice and enjoy a most intimate relationship with him.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trinity Praying

All Christian prayer is in the Holy Trinity.  We begin "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and we often end "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit."   The Spirit within us unites us to Jesus as Jesus offers himself in love to the Father.  God is Love coming, going, remaining.  "You are Love with Whom I love You."  This eternal Flow is going on within us and within the entire universe.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What is Truth!

There is only one version of the truth.  It is especially crucial now that we learn how and where to find it. 
Hannah Arendt was born a Jew in Germany in 1906.  She escaped the Holocaust and became an American citizen.  She died in New York City in 1975.  A pertinent warning from her: "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists."

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Intimacy with Christ

The sheep hear the shepherd's voice
as he calls by name those that belong to him
and leads them out.
When he has brought out all his own,
he walks in front of them;
and the sheep follow him
because they recognize his voice.
(John 10:3-4)

Jesus seems to be referring to sheep mingling in the same fold, but belonging to several different shepherds.  Each shepherd comes to the gate and calls out his sheep by name.  They follow his voice.
Jesus speaks our name in a way that shows he knows us intimately.  He wants us to get to know him so intimately that we recognize his voice in our hearts as he tells us of his love.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Life to the Full

I have come
that they may have life
and have it to the full.

These words of Jesus in John 10:10 seemed a good accompaniment to this May Day sunrise.  I was awakened by a pink sky a little before six and hurried out in shorts and bare feet to "receive" pictures of a sky and lake colored by the sun before its rising.
The Risen Christ within us wants us to have a full life lost in God and in the glorious beauty of our world.