There are two stories from the ancient world I would like to compare. The first is that of Alcibiades, a figure from a war fought between Athens and Sparta in the 400s BC known as the Peloponnesian War. A brilliant Athenian statesman and general, Alcibiades brought great success to Athens in the early part of the war. While away on a naval campaign, however, he was accused by his political opponents of treason. Placed under arrest by subordinates, he managed to escape, jumping ship (literally and figuratively).
In the First Reading, from the Book of Exodus, Moses is leading the Israelites through the desert toward the Promised Land. They must go through various enemy territories which often resulted in tribal wars. Moses sends Joshua and his men down to the valley to engage Amalek and his army, while he, Aaron and Hur remain on the hill and enter into intercessory prayers for the men in the valley. While Moses’ arms remained firm, the battle went in the Hebrew’s favor; but when they let up, Amalek and his men start to regain strength. Moises is able to keep his hands steady until sunset. God is the one who is victorious over the Amalekites.
My favorite painter is from the Impressionist era, 19th century, Oscar-Claude Monet. His work can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago downtown. Even if you had never seen a single one of his masterpieces, walking into his gallery you would see his style throughout all of his pieces. Monet left his mark on every piece he did, and I mean that very literally. Monet was not afraid to let his brush strokes show and also add to the mood of the piece. Observing his series of hay bales, you would also notice his attention to how color, based upon the time of day, can greatly alter the expression of the same subject matter. What's more is that when you view one of his pieces from a distance and then up close (be sure security doesn't catch your nose on the canvas) you get two very different experiences. From afar, you can perceive the distinct subject matter; up close, you see only a dizzy of colors swimming next to each other.
The Reboot LIVE event at St Juliana Parish, Wednesday, October 16, 2019 7:00pm - 9:30pm HAS BEEN CANCELLED
Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 13, 2019
I shared a quote from author Ruth Burrows last week on prayer. Allow me to share another one with you. She writes about how most of the time our prayer isn't authentic prayer because it's more thinking, self-reflection, and just expressing our own desires, which aren't always things that would be good for us (i.e., not God's will). "We may want a 'spiritual life', we may want 'prayer'," she writes, "but we do not want God."
Someone asked me recently how he could not be sure he was not currently living in Purgatory. (I think he was a White Sox fan.) The lament made me think, upon later reflection, of the classic piece of medieval literature, The Divine Comedy. (Pope Francis, by the way, has encouraged Catholics to read this during the year.)
The First Reading is taken from the Second Book of Kings. The scene in today’s reading reveals not only Naaman’s cleansing from leprosy, but also his transformation from arrogant resistance to humble acceptance, and his new faith in the God of Israel. As a man of means, Naaman desires to offer gifts to Elisha. But Elisha refuses because he wants to make it clear to Naaman that it is God, not he, who is the source of his healing. This story is intended to show God’s concern for non-Jewish persons, which is also a central theme in today’s Gospel.
The mythology surrounding superheroes is fascinating to me. Take the superhero, Superman, for example. The mythology is not only great, it’s unique. Quentin Tarantino, I think, has a great insight into the character of Superman:
Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 6, 2019
Praying is my favorite activity. Yes, more than watching sports. When I see, hear, or read something that even comes close to the topic of prayer, I want to discuss it. These readings, in my opinion, can be connected to prayer.
The first reading from the prophet Habakkuk is itself a prayer, and a beautiful one at that. The author is in a difficult situation and authentically calling out to God for help. The Lord answers him, basically telling him to hang tight and trust.
The Road to Emmaus was filled with trickery, bravery, blood, and victory. No, I am not talking about that Road to Emmaus. I am talking about the encounter of Judas Maccabeus and the Gentile army from the Old Testament (cf. 1 Maccabees 3-4). It occurred about 175 years prior to the risen Christ meeting the two disciples on the same road (cf. Luke 24:13-25).