Faith and Disappointment

The last week of the Church year has, for much of my life, been my least favorite time, liturgically speaking. There is a relentlessness to the themes of catastrophe, destruction, violence, and death. There is the constant reminder, as we hear in the gospel today, that “the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). The reminders of the limits of humanity’s potency and effectiveness have always easily evoked my personal psychic sense of and fears of futility. One of the hardest but truest spiritual directives[read more]

What Shall I Do

The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.  I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into[read more]

Shame and Longing

But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.  For the[read more]

Persistence and Prayer

As often as I have been affected and inspired by the words of today’s gospel, I think I have never before realized the degree of courage that is required if we are to live in the “persistence” Jesus describes. One of the greatest dangers of what we can call religious belief is its tendency to shade into, if not outrightly become, magical thinking. As the Buddha taught, all life is suffering. As Freud reminded us, we must learn to bear with the harshness of reality. And, of course, these are unpleasant truths. And so, we can resort to a way[read more]

To Sell All

The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,[read more]

Participating in the Eternal Silence

One of the most meaningful and beautiful of scriptural images for me is the one we read in Isaiah today. As the rain and snow come down from heaven and give life to the earth, so shall God’s word. The word of God creates what it speaks. God speaks his word so that his will may be done on earth as in heaven. By God’s choice that word is designed to reach its fruition on earth, thus achieving the end for which God sends it, in and through us.[read more]

Sadness and Grace

What makes us, human beings, so restless and anxious? Albert Camus says that we are constantly seeing refuge “in love, and work, and communal life.” From what are we seeking that refuge? The basic philosophical and psychological answer to this question is that we are evading the awareness of our deaths. The gospel answer, while not at all contradicting this, adds that in doing so we are also avoiding our own lives. Remember the young man asks Jesus “Good master, what may I do in order that I may inherit the life of the Age?” And Jesus responds, after telling[read more]