Tag Archives: preaching

Opening God’s Word: God’s Nuptial Love

TimOMalleyTimothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D.

Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

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Editorial Note: This piece originally appeared in Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly–January 6, 2016

The image of marriage employed in the Scriptures should, if we were not so used to it, be rather shocking. The Lord, the creator of heaven and earth, becomes the gracious bridegroom to Israel in the book of Isaiah: “No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken’ … but you shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused’” (Is 62:4). Thus, it is no accident in the Gospel of John that the first sign Jesus performs at Cana takes place at a wedding. For, in the Gospel of John, a sign is not simply a demonstration of divine power. Instead, signs are moments in which Jesus’ identity becomes clear, inviting the reader to worship and adore before the Word made flesh.

In the first of seven signs, Jesus attends a wedding with his mother and disciples. These weddings were not four-hour events on a Saturday but weeklong celebrations.

When the wedding runs out of wine, there is a threat of a shortened party, a reception that does not live up to expectations. Jesus’ mother intervenes, and he replies, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4).

Jesus’ harshness may seem surprising. Yet, in the Gospel of John, it is common that those even who know Jesus quite well fail to grasp the full implications of his identity. That the hour that Jesus speaks about is the final act of glorification upon the cross, when he reveals to the world that God’s love has conquered the darkness of death itself. Indeed, his hour has not yet come. And yet, Jesus’ mother tells the servants to act, and they comply with her wishes.

The quantity of water in the stone jars is obscene — the transformation of up to 180 gallons of water into wine. And this is not poor wine, the kind one might serve in the days in which the party is winding down. Rather, the best wine is served toward the end of the celebration.

As a sign, the Gospel points the reader to see Jesus as the Messiah, the one who comes to bring about God’s nuptial union with Israel. The wine Jesus brings for this celebration is both excessively good and bountiful. In the carrying out of this sign, Jesus announces that the wedding feast of the messianic age has begun. To believe in the sign is therefore not simply to recognize it as worthy of wonder but to worship the sign-producer, Jesus the Christ.

The Church exists in the midst of this messianic wedding feast, living as one “drunk” upon the good wine of salvation. And indeed, this is the source of the mercy that the Church preaches to the world. God so loved the world that he became for us the bridegroom of an undeserving bride.

When the Church seeks to evangelize the world, we are inviting others to share in this love, to join with us in drinking the sweet wine of the nuptial feast.

We go forth to the margins to tell a love story, to woo others to join us in the wedding feast of the Lamb, and to discover in the process that our party is enriched by an increase in the number of revelers.

The bitter waters of every life can be transformed into the good wine of salvation. And so, we attendees and brides at so great a feast must sing out to the world: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready” (Rv 19:7).

Sermons in the Cemetery

Leonard DeLorenzoLeonard DeLorenzo, Ph.D.

Director, Notre Dame Vision and Student Engagement

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I like to spend time in cemeteries where the dead preach to me, where the sermon is always the same: “Yield”.

When the wind has not been too punishing in late October,
the trees that line the graves still hold their leaves
in early November,
here in Northern Indiana.

The sighing breeze
passing from some place to some other place
flatters the trees and speaks to their leaves,
persuading them to release their grip
and flutter to the ground,
sometimes alone and sometimes not.

These leaves come to rest upon the grass resting upon the soil that rests upon the precious remains of lives once lived and now at rest.

There these leaves thus wait upon
the force of breeze or wind or rake
to tell them what’s next.

Otherwise they wait for frost.

And all the while below the soil the precious remains of lives once lived and now at rest uphold in silence the tiny drama unfolding above, where trees sprout new leaves for the breeze to persuade to flutter down to meet the grass in early November, provided the winds of October mind their manners.

And all the while in the passing of time, each thing below says to each thing above: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”

Follow Leonard DeLorenzo @leodelo2.

Preaching on Contemporary Events

Tim O'MalleyTimothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D.

Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

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Twice in the recent year, theologians and social media friends have been atwitter (pun intentional) over the lack of reference to contemporary events in the Sunday Homily. The first time was the shooting of Freddie Gray by police in Baltimore. The second (and more recent) is the reality of abortion exposed by the Planned Parenthood videos. In both instances, there has been a keen sense that the Church’s preaching failed to address those contemporary events, which are front and center in the minds of the faithful.


In one sense, the lack of addressing said contemporary events in the homily is a “sort of” positive. The Sunday homily is ultimately not an occasion to update the assembly about the news of the world. It is a liturgical act in which the assembly is invited to encounter Christ made manifest in the Scriptures, even now dwelling among us. If those who want the homily to address contemporary events desire preaching in which the priest only tangentially deals with the Gospel, the readings, or the liturgical texts of the day, then there is a problem.

On the other hand, the dearth of preaching upon contemporary life in the world is simply evidence that we have failed to form our homilists in a theological and existential approach to Scriptural exegesis. What we have instead is a form of preaching that is really a series of pious maxims that the homilist holds dear; maxims that won’t too deeply transform the day-to-day lives of the assembly. It is the preaching of what my colleague, Christian Smith, calls Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (with a strong emphasis here on the therapy). As I wrote in Liturgy and the New Evangelization: Practicing the Art of Self-Giving Love:

If Christian preaching is to be effective, transformative of the human condition, then it must deal with those universal themes that are at the heart of being human. Such a claim may seem trite. But too often the great hopes of human life, the deepest sorrows of our condition, remain unaddressed in homilies. Marriages commence and end without a word from the homilist about the delights and perils of human love.  Adolescents suffer from eating disorders, false images of what constitutes beauty in the first place, without the homilist exhorting us to perceive a form of beauty manifested on the cross. Young couples with children struggle with the pressures and loneliness that too often come with living in suburbia, with expectations to achieve success and wealth, without the homilist providing a more firm hope to believe in. Within each of our communities are the poor, those who have no support system, no way to provide for their children. The presence of the poor, the suffering, the sorrowing are often neglected in homilies, which frequently become panegyrics dedicated to upper middle class family life. The hopes and desires of the world are present in each assembly, yet rarely does the homilist address these in a substantial way. The consequence of such preaching is that our lives, the fullness of what constitutes our humanity, have nothing to do with the eucharistic rites of the church. They are left at the door of our parish, as we escape either into entertaining vignettes of the local prelate’s recent vacation or moralistic exhortations to become better people according to the minimalistic vision of Catholic faith offered by the homilist (66)

That is, it is the Scriptures and the liturgical rites themselves that enable us to address the contemporary world. These last Sundays, we have begun to move through the Bread of Life discourse in the Gospel of John. The opportunity to preach on all that takes away life are manifest during these weeks. Because if Jesus is in fact the bread of life, that means that we need this bread. The world in which we live in feeds us with a different bread–a death-dealing feast. A world in which we are too often guests at a banquet of violence, of self-interest, of the powerful who will eliminate those who have no power. For this reason, we need to receive that Bread of Life that forms us to see anew that the only way to have life is to give up our lives. To stand up for those who are most defenseless: the unborn, the immigrant, the criminal condemned to death–all those on the margins of the world. And when we receive the Eucharist at each Mass, we commit ourselves to this way of living, to become hosts of this banquet of life for the world.

In the end, the problem of preaching is not simply that it fails to address contemporary events. Rather, homilies often have so little to do with the realities of the world, of a particular community, that they are nothing but pious reflections upon a Gospel that has no power to transform what it means to be human. The problem here is not simply that priests and deacons don’t know how to address the contemporary world. Rather, it seems that they’re not aware that the Gospel is meant to encounter every aspect of culture, every aspect of what it means to be human. And through this encounter that the transformation of the world is to unfold.

In other words, lack of specificity, lack of attention to contemporary life, implicitly proclaims to the world that the Gospel is meant to remain in the safety of our Sunday sanctuaries. Not to be spread to all the corners of the world.



The Feast of the Holy Family: Not Just a Model

Tim O'MalleyTimothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D.

Director, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy

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Those of us suspicious of the pious platitudes that too often make their home in Catholic homiletic practice know that the feast of the Holy Family is a “code-red” day for such platitudes. We families assemble in our parishes and are exhorted that we should conform our domestic life according to the peaceful, loving relationships of Jesus, Mary, and Jesus. The image of the Holy Family that we receive is one pictured on holy cards where perfect beauty and order and HolyFamilyattention are mutually given by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (I suppose there were no smartphones to distract attention…otherwise Christ would have been found in the temple playing Angry Birds).

Those of us with toddlers normally do not hear this point of homiletic insight (ironically) because our children want to take up their vocation as amateur arsonists by playing with the candles placed before the statue of the Blessed Mother or take a swim in the baptismal font. But for those of us able to attend to the preaching this day, we walk away with a sense of guilt that our own family lives (whether married with children or not) are too messy. Not one of us come from or are perfectly replicating a family that includes the Word made flesh, the Virgin conceived without sin, and the most just Joseph. Our family histories are marked by sin, by violence, by disorder. Even more so, not everyone in our parishes are themselves part of such families. Single men and women (with and without children), the infertile, the divorced, the widowed–should they tune out on the Feast of the Holy Family because this day is not ultimately about them?

The problem with the homiletic platitudes delivered on this feast day in the Octave of Christmas is that it quickly reduces the mystery of the Incarnation into a series of moral maxims nearly impossible for most of us to fulfill. It is Christianity as a form of works righteousness, an American gospel of “try a little harder and you too can be like Mary and Joseph and Jesus.” Liturgical feasts are not lessons of morality (at least primarily). They present to us some facet of Christ’s own life (or life in Christ in the case of the saints) that the universal Church HolyFamilyatWorkshould contemplate. In the case of the feast of the Holy Family, we contemplate nothing less than the total, self-emptying love of the Word made flesh, who chose to dwell among the human race in a family.

For those of us who have experience with families, I find this fact at least as shocking as the cross. Family life is exceedingly difficult. To be in a family involves learning to give yourself away even when you have no desire to do so. It is learning the virtue of obligation, of being there, of taking up one’s duties as a husband or father, a wife or mother, a child or a sibling. Yet, the real difficult part (and where salvation comes from) of family life is learning to “forget” that this love that you offer to the other is an obligation in the first place.  Of course, wives and husbands are obligated to one another. They may even take turns with particularly onerous tasks (like getting up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying child). Yet, only the most ridiculous of marriages operate out of a system of exchange in which a couple keeps track of every thing that his or her partner is obliged to do.

This obligation extends to child as well. As a child, I have called home to speak to my parents every Sunday since I went off to college in the year 2000. At this point, this phone call is obligatory (on the part of the caller and the receiver of the call I should say). Yet, the grace of family life is that obedience and obligation is transformed into gift. What we owe is to become what we give out of love. If family life is a Nativityschool of love, it is not because existence within a family (at least for those of us who are fallen) is intrinsically harmonious, full of good will and cheer. Rather, family life teaches us to give and to give and to give, forgetting what the gift costs and costs and costs. Everything.

The scandal of the feast of the Holy Family is that the Word made flesh, the very creator of the universe, learned the art of this gift-giving from us. He was obedient to Mary and Joseph, obliged to live under their care. The absolute love that he manifested in his ministry and upon the cross was not only divine love. Rather, it was a love made possible because he learned to love from Mary and Joseph. He learned what it means to give oneself away without counting the cost. The prayers of Christmas often speak about the marvelous exchange of humanity and divinity that took place in the babe born in Bethlehem. This exchange of divinity and humanity did not conclude at his birth but unfolded as the Word became flesh, became part of a family. And now too (after all it’s an exchange), our very own families in all of their messiness can become a place where the Word becomes flesh, where obligation becomes love, where the fullness of salvation unfolds.

For this reason, the feast of the Holy Family is not intended to make us feel bad that our families fall short of the measure of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (and they do and will). Rather, it presents to us the fact that even the messiness of family life is part of our salvation. And our family life (like that of the Holy Family) is not absolute peace and perfection. The Holy Family exists in a world in which the innocents are slaughtered, in which they become migrants in Egypt, in whichDeathofStJoseph they lose their son in the temple, in which they gather around Joseph at his death, in which Mary watches her son die upon a cross at the hands of the Roman Empire. Even in this mess, salvation does unfold.

Thus, I would urge homilists of all sorts to preach not pious platitudes but the mystery of salvation that all families need to hear.

  • We all need to hear that the Word became flesh, forever transforming what it means to be in relationship with one another.
  • We all need to hear that God loved us so much that God entered into the messiness of history not as idea but as embodied in a family.
  • We all need to hear that our salvation is inseparable from those very real obligations that we enter into as members of the human family as a whole–obligations that become gifts.

That is, the feast of the Holy Family is not simply for perfect families, with 2.5 children, with a nice house, where fighting and discord is absent. Rather, this feast is for the divorced, for those that struggle to love a parent who has done something atrocious, for those that long for children but cannot have them, for those who are forgotten and unloved, for single moms and single dads, for those who have left their homeland and families behind to send money to feed spouse and child, for those who are single but don’t want to be, and on and on. Even here, even in this messiness, the Word wants to become flesh and dwell among us.

And for our families, the goal is not to become merely like the Holy Family (Mom = Mary, Dad = Joseph, Child = Jesus). Rather, it is to become like the Word made flesh himself. To enter into the sorrowful places of the world, the places where neither obligation or love is found, and to offer the gift of love that is the heart of Christmas. This is a feast worth celebrating and preaching upon. This is the feast of the Holy Family.

Prepare Ye the Way…for the Good Relativism

Jessica KeatingJessica Keating, M.Div.

Program Director, Human Dignity and Life Initiatives

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For the past two Sundays, the Gospels have presented us with the figure of John. In the East he is known as “the Forerunner”; in the West, “the Baptist.” Each year he makes an Advent appearance, heralding the Light.

John may strike us as an eccentric figure. Perhaps we’re even a little embarrassed by him. He wears camel’s hair; he eats locusts and wild honey. He could be a character in a Flannery O’Connor short story, a misfit, a freak, a fool, and like the grotesque and weird characters of O’Connor’s Southern gothic fiction, if all we find odd is John’s appearance and ascetic lifestyle, then we’ve missed true oddity of John.

In last Sunday’s gospel (Jn. 6-8; 19-28), we heard that Jews of Jerusalem sent some priests, Levites, Pharisees to inquire about John’s identity. “Who are you?” they ask. “I am not the Christ,” he tells them. “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” “I am not,” he says. “Are you the Prophet?” “No,” he answers. “What do you have to say for yourself?” He tells them, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’” as Isaiah the prophet said.”

In a culture as self-referential as ours, John’s answers ought to shock us. Our culture habituates us to seek attention in any number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We check how “likes” or “shares” we get on Facebook or how many followers we have on Twitter. We strive to be noticed, to get published, to be praised. Most of us would not pass up the opportunity the priests, Levites, and Pharisees give John—seven opportunities, to be exact, to say JohntheBaptistsomething for himself, to assert himself, to give his credentials, his accomplishments, to make his “elevator pitch.” Why not say he’s the Christ, or at least Elijah…a Prophet at minimum? Everyone else is claiming such honors. All he has to say for himself is that he is “the voice crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.’” When he finally discloses something of his identity, he uses, not his own words, but those of the prophet Isaiah.

In the person of John we encounter the scandal of relativization; not the kind that shapes modern discourse and relationships, which is hardly considered scandalous. Rather, the scandal of John is that his entire person, his entire life points to another. He has nothing to say for himself because his identity is completely relativized in the one who is coming after him, the one whose sandal strap he is not worthy to untie. But far from this relativization rendering John somehow wrath-like or bland, his identity in Christ renders him more particular, more beautiful, more perplexing, more uniquely and oddly himself. O’Connor is purported to have amended the last word of John 8:32: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.”

In Advent we are given the opportunity to ponder the oddness of the Gospel, of the particular way the God of Love discloses himself to us. We are invited to diminish with John the Baptist, to decrease so that Christ may become greater (Jn 3:30), not in the sense of exercising a false humility which always finds invidious ways to direct people back to ourselves, but to make Christ the focus of our gaze, to direct our lives toward the horizon of Truth whose mercy and tenderness is the straight way that makes us a bit odd.

My Good and Faithful Servant: the Gift of the Eucharist

Tim KenneyTimothy J. Kenney

’14 MTS Candidate 

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

This is the time of year when things begin to draw to a close, when the leaves on the trees have stopped being pretty and are just plain dead, when the thrill of pumpkin spice lattes seems to have run its course, when the sun goes away for a while and leaves us with the cold reality that is winter. A common complaint among Notre Dame students is that, in coming to ND they say goodbye to the sun for six months of the year. A perma-cloud spreads over campus and leaves everyone wondering if the sun will ever return. I never really understood this problem because, being from South Bend, I think my body was just acclimated to low levels of Vitamin D.

With the waning of another year, we’re given an opportunity for reflection. Where have we grown since this year began? What new challenges am I facing in my life? What am I still struggling with that was a problem a year ago? Now I know someone you are probably screaming at your computers right now that I’m even breaching this subject in the middle of November. There goes another loon skipping Thanksgiving and Advent and jumping straight to Christmas and New Years! He probably already did his Christmas shopping too! Don’t worry friends, that is most certainly NOT what I Permacloudam doing here. I’m talking about the end of the Liturgical year, which will conclude with the Feast of Christ the King and kick off a brand new opportunity for us to live as a Church, to serve and love God, to process and live our faith.

In this spirit of looking back to the things we’ve missed or could have done better, I’d like to reflect on a shorter period of the more recent past. As in less than a week ago. If you went to Mass this weekend, then you heard the priest or deacon proclaim Matthew’s Parable of the Talents. Likely in his homily he noted that, in the ancient Near East a talent was in fact a unit of measure for gold or silver, therefore emphasizing that the servant who squandered a single talent wasn’t hoarding a nickel, he was wasting an entire years salary. Yet in English we have the added benefit of what talent means in our language. The parable can serve as a helpful reminder that we’ve been given a lot of opportunities and are expected to actually do something with those in our lives.

There is a disadvantage, however, we have because of the words having two different but applicable meanings, much in the same way that we have a difficulty distinguishing different types of love because English only has the one word ‘love.’ Since this point has to parable_of_talentsbe conveyed through a nonverbal medium I’ll make a distinction between a talent, such as musicality or athleticism, and a Talent, such as faith. A talent could be a Talent, something we’re given and should seek to use as a way to praise and serve God, but a Talent really cannot be reduced down to a talent, that is, something we’re good at. At the end of our lives, God is not going to ask whether we really used that ability to burp the alphabet to its full potential, our judgment will depend on far more important matters.

We have an opportunity at end of the liturgical year to reflect on our actions and re-energize our efforts to embrace the Talents we have been given. But this requires that first we pause and consider what these Talents might be. In searching for an answer we must turn to the Eucharist. God has provided us with the most important Talent we could want in the Sacrament of the Altar and the mass that prepares us to receive it. Mass is an opportunity for each of us to live out our faith in community, reflecting the love and community we are called to cultivate with the world. We should seek constant community with those around us, whether through service or prayer, mission or restoration, preaching or nurturing. The Eucharist not only establishes us as a community, it allows us to act as Christ for the world. It is a special opportunity for us to participate in this community, to love one another fully as our neighbor because we recognize Christ in each other.

In a shorter time frame, we can recognize both the incredible Talents extended to us in the liturgy of last week and, in a similar sense, see next Sunday as a return of the Master. Going to Mass isn’t just social and it isn’t simply functional either–it’s transformative. There is something expected, demanded of us in this gospel and it can be applied right there in the Mass. When you sit down in your pew on Sunday, ask yourself, what have I done in the last week? We have been given the incredible gift of Christ in the Eucharist, but how often do we come back the next week and find at no point in between did we given Him any thought at all? Every time that we walk into the church and have not given a thought to our mission or vocation in the past week we’ve buried those Talents in the sand.

If the year teaches us anything, it’s that something new is on the other side of it. The Feast of Christ the King ends the year, but then Advent begins the new one. If on the last day of the year I reflect that I have completely squandered the Talents God gave me, I should feel guilt but not despair. I have a need for forgiveness, but am in now way permanently stuck in this state because, to quote Monty Python, “I’m not dead yet!” I still have a tomorrow, a new year and new opportunities to serve God. This is true whether we have multiplied our Talents five times or buried them in the dirt. We can always love God better and he is continuously making the grace to do so available to us. So too, on the smaller scale, are we called to reflection when we return to Mass this weekend. There will "In return for my love they slander me,      even though I prayed for them.  They repay me evil for good, hatred for my love." Psalm 109:4-5inevitably have been times in the past week when we missed opportunities to praise God in all things. But this shouldn’t drive us away from church, it should be a reminder of the new opportunities that are on the horizon and draw us to the Eucharist.

If we really incorporate God and prayer into our lives, we have the opportunity to discern the actions God is really calling us to. Because of this, we can determine or reaffirm the Talents God is giving us and how we should be multiplying their fruits in the world. These aren’t New Years resolutions, they’re vocations.

Jesus Pulls a Fast One

From a friend of the Center for Liturgy, Rick Becker, on attending Mass on 8/13/14: Jesus Pulls a Fast One

What’s the take home here? For a clue, we can return to Matthew 18. The weekday Mass reading that got me thinking about this stuff stopped at verse 20, but if you check your New Testament, you’ll see that what follows the discourse on church discipline is surprising – beginning with verse 21:

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

In other words, sure, we have to have rules and consequences for breaking them. And, sure, we have to take more drastic measures when rule-breakers refuse to reform – drastic measures like the tax collector/Gentile treatment.

But you can’t fool me, Jesus. You want me to love them and forgive them all anyway – the whole tax collector and Gentile ilk, obstinate sinners all. Just like you loved them and forgave them all yourself.

Just like you love and forgive me.

Breaking Open the Word: The Season of Easter (Cycle A, Weeks 1-5)

FrCharlieGordonCSCRev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C.

Co-Director, Garaventa Center

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Easter Sunday

The Sequence puts it well, “Death and life were locked together ResurrectedChristin a unique struggle.  Life’s captain died; now he reigns, never more to die… Christ my hope has risen.  He will go before you into Galilee.”  Christ is risen.  In him, we have won a great victory over death –our greatest and most ancient foe.  It only remains for us to share in the fruits of that victory.

2nd Sunday of Easter

Christ responds to Thomas’s expression of faith by asking, “HaveThomas
you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” That’s us. We’re the one’s who’ve not seen the marks in Our Lord’s body, yet believe. But, with eyes of faith, we can recognize in one another the kind of things that he would say – the kind of things that he would do.

3rd Sunday of Easter

Then the resurrected Christ himself joined the two disciples on their walk. He said to them, “What little sense you have! How slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” And he proceeded to explain to them every passage of Scripture that referred to him. So they had all the facts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They had the Scriptures. They had Jesus Christ himself explaining the meaning of the Scriptures.
Yet the two disciples still didn’t recognize Jesus. Apparently RoadtoEmmausnothing could make them realize the truth of Jesus’ identity.

4th Sunday of Easter

ChristShepherdWhen morning came, the sheep had to be sorted out into their
individual flocks for another day’s quest for water and good grazing. But how could this be done? The sheep weren’t branded like cattle in a western movie. They weren’t marked with paint the way modern flocks are. Instead, each shepherd would come to the gate and call out to his flock. The sheep knew their shepherd’s voice and responded to it. They came out of the pen and followed him into the hills.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Something similar may be happening in our Gospel today. The LastsupperDiscourseapostles are gathered around Jesus. He is in the midst of his farewell discourse. It had to be evident to the apostles that these solemn words of their master’s were profoundly important: a kind of summation of all that he had taught and of everything they had experienced together. They must
have been hanging on his every word.

Breaking Open the Word: Holy Week Edition

FrCharlieGordonCSCRev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C.

Co-Director, Garaventa Center

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Palm Sunday 

“When, at Mass on Palm Sunday, the Passion of our Lord is read inPalmSunday
parts, the congregation often takes the role of the crowd, and calls out,
“Crucify him! Crucify him!” And, of course, that’s appropriate, because
by our sinfulness, each one of us plays a role in the crucifixion of our
Savior. One of the ways we contribute, is by our persistence in judging
other people. Despite our Lord’s command to “judge not, lest you be
judged,” we have constantly to struggle against our tendency to
condemn people who have offended us, or who have violated our
standards of appropriate behavior.”

Holy Thursday

WashingFeet“I’m sure, at one time or another, you have been asked the question,
“If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?”
I’ve always thought that it would be great to be able to answer that we
would carry on doing whatever we were doing at the moment, because
presumably we all realize that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to us, so we
ought to be doing the right thing all along.”

Good Friday

ChristCrossTruth can be hard to find in this world. . . but today it cannot be
avoided. It confronts each of us in the wood of the Cross on which our
Savior died, held out for us to kiss — to embrace — to make our own.
There can be no evasion. Bravado, finely crafted rationalizations, ironic
winks, and empty gestures are equally futile. They will not serve. This is
our “moment of truth.” How will we respond? Veritas vos liberabit.

Breaking Open the Word with Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C.: The Feast of the Presentation and the 5th, 6th, and 7th Sundays in Ordinary Time

FrCharlieGordonCSCRev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C.

Co-Director, Garaventa Center

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Presentation of the Lord 

This Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a celebration of that extraordinary moment of recognition. It is a moment worth thinking
about, because we are all invited to experience it. Each one of us is called upon to recognize Jesus as Lord. We won’t have that forty-day old baby to gaze at, but the same Holy Spirit who inspired Simeon and Anna is with us — enabling us to recognize Jesus in the Scriptures, in the hungry, in
the stranger, in the prisoner. . . . and in the Eucharist we share.


5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

Gourmets, gourmands, and the chefs who cater to them have discovered that all salt is not the same. Salts mined in different places by different means have distinctive trace elements, moisture content and textures that can enhance the flavor of dishes prepared with them. The idea is to sprinkle a bit of the perfect salt onto a dish immediately before
serving – a bit like the chef on the magazine cover does with his sidewalk.

Remarkably, this brings us back to the Dead Sea, which is the source of some of the finest, most sought after finishing salts of all. So what if we Christians are the finishing salts of the earth? Each
of us a child of God possessed of the same Holy Spirit, but each of us distinctive because of where we have come from and the experiences that
have brought us to this place. God’s loving plan for each of us has brought us into circumstances suited to our particular qualities. Now let’s trust the recipe, and the chef, and glorify God by our lives.


6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

If any rabbi of Jesus’ time was asked, “What must I do to be saved,” he would have answered, “You must love.” Jesus would give the same answer. If the rabbi was asked, “How can I be sure that I am
loving,” he would have answered “You may be sure that you are loving if you keep the law.” Here is where Jesus would answer differently. Jesus
taught that while the law is precious, the only way you can tell if you are loving properly is to examine the quality of your love. It’s not enough to
refrain from murdering your enemy. You’ve got to love that person you’d like to throttle. It’s not enough to bring gifts to the altar. You must first
forgive the person who has injured you.

And Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do. He showed us. Look at a crucifix. That is how it’s done: the mystery of Christ crucified. And we are to pick up our crosses and follow him.


7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

This is the kind of imitation that is most relevant to our faith. Our imitation is not inferior or fraudulent, because we imitate God as children
of God. As St. Paul reminds us, the Spirit of God dwells in us. This Spirit equips us to be like Christ, not out of flattery, fear, or self-interest, but
out of love for a God who is mother and father to us. And it allows us to see Christ in one another.