Friday, April 18, 2014

What is so good about Good Friday?

As I was walking to the back of the church last night before our Holy Thursday mass I was stopped by one of my favorite little kids.  Eight year-old Ben needed to ask me the question that was on his mind all day. "So why do we call tomorrow Good Friday if it is the day that Jesus died on the cross?  Killing Jesus was not good!"

Great question.  And they usually come to me as I am moving too fast.  Seems to be God’s way of slowing me down…of causing me to pause.  And based on the size of Ben's big eyes, for him, this was a serious question.

But which answer to give him?

Perhaps the standard answer.  That we call this Friday 'good' as in ‘holy.’  It comes from the 13th century Middle English as it relates to holy days in the church. The Oxford dictionary puts the reference under "good" as: a) Pious, devout. b) Tending to spiritual edification: spec. the Bible. c) of a day or season observed as holy by an orthodox "Christian" church.

Or I could have gone with the secondary answer whereby the name may be derived from 'God's Friday,' in the same way that good-bye is derived from ‘God be with ye’.

Instead I got down to Ben’s eye level and told him that we call this day ‘good’ because although Christ died on this day – three days later he rose from the dead.  He showed us what good things can come to us when bad things happen.  That Christ is and was forever with us – always loving us...even on our dark days.   

For we remember on this day that each of the crosses that we all bear carry a seed of resurrection...that our dying leads to eternal life.  

And for me, that is the real good news on Good Friday. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Passover and Asking the Right Questions

Passover, the Jewish holiday known as Pesach, begins at sundown this evening (April 14th). It commemorates the Israelites' escape from Egyptian slavery and it is observed with a ritualized meal consisting of unleavened bread and cups of wine.  On this evening, the youngest person at the table will ask the question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?"  

I love the fact that the celebration of Passover begins with a question.

Prior Pope John XXIII, Catholics were not really encouraged to ask questions. Then Vatican II came along – and the voices of the faithful began to be heard. Questions soon came forth and they haven’t stopped. Albeit, some of the questions raised are somewhat nonsensical.  Like, “Is it OK for the priest to wash the feet of men AND women at the Holy Thursday liturgy?”  And, “Is it really OK for the congregation to read the part of the ‘crowd’ during the passion readings of Palm Sunday and Good Friday?”

But as we celebrate the first year of Pope Francis, we are hearing real meaningful and substantial questions coming forth.  Such as, “Should the Church really consider married priests?”  According to a recent article in The Tablet, the Pope is encouraging the Bishops around the world to bring that question to him.

And then we have the question of divorced Catholics and their reception of the sacraments – a topic that will be certainly covered at the Bishop’s Synod this October.  After all, Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, said “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness . . . The church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems."

Sounds like some of the right questions are finally being asked.  Sounds like the wishes of soon-to-be Saint John XXIII of bringing in fresh air to Church may be on the breath of the faithful – of you – asking these needed questions to the right people and looking and expecting Gospel based answers - finally.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Homily: 5th Sunday of Lent - Lazarus

God’s love is often described as a Divine flow of love and grace - movement that is never restricted.  Nothing we say or do changes the love that is poured out upon us by God.  It is unmerited in every sense – freely given to all.  The only thing we have to do is be willing to accept and trust and share in the flow of that love.

So during Lent we have been examining our lives to see what blocks that flow - in other words, to examine our personal garbage. Thus shifting through our hurts and wounds and addictions so that we can be present and aware and participating in that ever present flow.

And today's gospel gives deeper insight on the fully human and fully divine side of Jesus Christ and his relationship to the community and the importance of our active participation.  What does that look like?  And what is the ending of this story that is often missed, but key in bringing forth the good news?

Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily

Click here for the text of the Homily
Click here for the readings

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Homily: 1st Sunday of Lent

Discernment in the Desert © Jan Richardson

Doesn’t it seem strange that God would declare his only son beloved and on whom his favor rests and then send him off into the desert to be tempted by the devil? A heck of a way to treat your only child!

So why does Matthew craft this story?  And why would angels lead Christ into the desert to meet Satan?  And how does a true story of a dying college grad shine light on all of this?  Light critical for our Lenten Journey.

Check it out.

It may just give you a whole new meaning to this season we call Lent!

Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily

Click here for the text of the Homily

Click here for the readings


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homily: Ash Wednesday 2014

Image: Blessing the Dust © Jan Richardson

So why do we gather today to receive ashes?  It is not a Holy Day of Obligation and yet today our liturgies will be filled with those looking to receive ashes.
Ashes – is it just a tradition that we follow?
Or…are we looking to make an outward sign of our Christianity?
Or…are we remembering our own mortality and/or that of our loved ones?

It is for my friend, artist, writer and minister, Jan Richardson, who lost her husband this past December.  As I was preparing my homily for this Ash Wednesday her blog post dealing with this loss…and the ashes came to light.  And it hit me.
Her story…your story…the ashes…and God. 

It is all there.

Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily
Click here for the text of the Homily

Click here for the readings