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December 17, 2017 - Advent: An Exilic Perspective

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

For Advent this year, my focus has been almost entirely on the first readings of the last three weeks, more specifically, the Babylonian exile. In the first week of Advent, I focused on the people of God desperately yearning God’s redeeming intervention. In the second week of Advent, I reflected on Isaiah’s announcement the exile was coming to an end. I remember preaching that while the exile could be attributed to God’s justice, the people newfound freedom was an act of God’s mercy. This week, we continue with our reflection on the exile. Only thing is that today’s first reading is directed toward the people who are finally back in their homeland. 

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December 10, 2017 - Conversion, Comfort, and Joy

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, one of the first things we do is examine our consciences and seek God’s mercy. “Kyrie Eleison! Christe Eleison! Kyrie Eleison!” And then the celebrants announces the absolution, saying, “May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life!” The congregation responds with a resounding, “Amen!” And then community does something special. We break out into the Gloria! “Glory to God in the highest,” we sing, “and peace to his people on earth!” The reason is simple. The experience of God mercy and forgiveness leads us to rejoicing! One moment the mood is sorrow for sin and the next moment the mood changes to praise! This contrast of moods is also the best way to explain the spirit of Advent. All of Advent we prepare our lives for Christ. And then at Christmas, we break forth singing “Glory to God in the highest!” 

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December 3, 2017 - What About Advent?

First Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

The Christmas frenzy has begun. No matter how much I try each year, there is no escaping it. More often than not, I feel violated by all the in-your-face glitz and glamor. It is crazy, but my first Christmas party is on the 12th of Dec. It goes ridiculously downhill after that. I have given up trying to make Advent a quite time. The social and commercial dimensions of the season are so blatant, that there simply is no escaping it. All I can do is to make sure that I do not lose out on the real meaning of the Advent season. 

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November 26, 2017 - Culture Wars in The Church: A Reflection on the Feast of Christ the King

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Scripture Readings

I am sure you have heard about the concept, ‘Culture Wars.’ Culture Wars refers to the conflict between traditionalist or conservative values and progressive or social liberal values in the Western world. Here in the United States, the term culture wars entered our contemporary vocabulary in the 1990’s with a book by James David Hunter, entitled, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. On the Feast of Christ the King, I begin my homily with a reference to Culture Wars because this movement is affecting the Catholic Church greatly. There is a very small but a vociferous movement in the Church that believes that Pope Francis is committing heresy. There are many reasons for this accusation, but the most prominent of them is that the Pope making it possible for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion on a case-by-case basis. They accuse him or undermining centuries of Church doctrine. Pope Francis, on the other hand, is clear the he is not overruling doctrine, but that he is providing pastoral care for those in need. The culture war in the church runs the risk of creating a schism. 

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November 19, 2017 - How will Our Story be Retold?

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Latest data tells us that now the richest 1% own 86% of the world’s wealth. In the United States, top 20% of Americans own 86% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population own 14%. I begin with my homily with these statistics not only because of staggering the inequality, but also because in a Capitalist economy such as ours, the Parable of the Talents might make us conclude that the top 1% are really the heroes of the parable, and that the rest of us are lazy, stupid, and incapable. After all, the master said, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.”  Matthew’s purpose of writing this parable is certainly not economic. If the Master is God and the servants are us, it becomes very important that the parable is interpreted correctly, least it become a tool for oppression. 

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