Do As I Have Done

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.  If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,[read more]

Friendship and Betrayal

The Lord God is my help, / therefore I am not disgraced; / I have set my face like flint, / knowing that I shall not be put to shame. / He is near who upholds my right; / if anyone wishes to oppose me, / let us appear together. / Who disputes my right?[read more]

In Our Living and Our Dying

“If I give myself glory, my glory is nothing.  It is my Father—of whom you say, ‘He is our God’—who gives me glory; and you have not known him, but I know him.  And if I say I do not know him, I shall be a liar like you; rather, I know him and keep[read more]

As Members of the Church

Yesterday I experienced one of those exceptional and, in a good way, disturbing moments in life. A very good friend said to me: “As a religious community in the Church, you guys don’t have the right to just say who you are on your own. You have a responsibility to us, and you need to dialogue with us who we need you to be.”[read more]

Sadness and Joy

As, in a liturgical and scriptural sense, we move inexorably toward the mystery of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we are drawn into the profound paradox of human experience that it is only in ceasing to flee from suffering and sadness that we come to recognize and realize the joy that is beyond telling. We know from psychoanalysis that it is the nature of our unconscious to crave and seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Yet, as pleasure and joy are not at all the same thing, to live unconsciously, as the Pharisees do, is to never know[read more]

Is Forgiveness Possible?

This lent is becoming a most challenging one for me. I have known, at one level, for a very long time that at the very heart of the Christian faith and form tradition is the call to forgiveness. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As I’ve often noted, the great scholar of religion Houston Smith has pointed out that the 3 great monotheistic religious traditions highlight a unique aspect of the call to follow the One God “unreservedly,” as we hear in the reading from Daniel today. The Jewish tradition focuses obedience; the Islamic[read more]

Grace and Responsibility

Some days ago, a friend shared with me a lecture that Jacques Barzun had given in 1969 entitled “Present Day Thoughts on the Quality of Life.” It had just recently been rediscovered and was published this month in “The American Scholar." In it he speaks of, for all their questionable tendencies, the valid critique of western culture that inhered in the revolutionary movements of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Given the secular and rational-functional reductionism of our culture, we have come to identify usefulness with human value. And if this was true in 1969, it is even more true[read more]

Rooted in God

As one who came of age in the Church immediately following the Second Vatican Council with its proper restoration of the meaning of the Incarnation for our humanity, I have always found the foundational spiritual teaching of today’s reading from Jeremiah a difficult one to comprehend fully and truly appreciate. “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings. . . .” Yet, if I hear the entire sentence which qualifies the “curse” as applying to one who trusts human beings solely, then I can begin to recognize its truth in my own experience.[read more]