The Good Shepherd

Dear Parishioners,

In the Gospel of John, there are seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. That is, our Lord says he is seven different things. They are, “I am...

  • the Bread of Life
  • the Light of the World
  • the Door
  • the Good Shepherd
  • the Resurrection and the Life
  • the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • the True Vine
Read more...

Ghostbusters

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus is no ghost! “But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost” (Lk 24:37).

Our Lord on this third Sunday of Easter is conscientious of proving to the disciples that he is real; that he is not a phantom or some vague spirit conjured from the dead. In the Old Testament the ghost of the prophet Samuel was summoned by the witch of Endor at the request of Saul (cf. 1 Sam 28). Ghosts were not unheard of.

Nor was a resuscitated person. Jesus had raised Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:38-44), the daughter of Jairus (cf. Matt 9:18), and the son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk 7:11-17) back to life The prophet Elijah in the Old Testament had also brought a person back from the realm of the dead (cf. 1 Kgs 17:17-24). Jesus was not a resuscitated human being. His resurrected body is different than it was before. He has a glorified body. He can pass through walls and appear in two places at once and vanish in an instant (see the Road to Emmaus).

Read more...

Got faith? Have love.

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Thomas! Oh Thomas, how close you were to missing out on sainthood. How close you were to losing your identity and being consigned to an eternity of confusion and limitation, along with Judas, Pilate, and everyone else who could not step out into the beautiful dark and believe. Thanks be to God (and truly, to God, for he mercifully came to you), you were able to see the risen Christ and come to faith.

We know well the story from today's Gospel, the second Sunday of Easter. “Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came” (Jn 20:24). When Thomas, who has missed Christ's appearance that Easter Sunday evening, is told by the ten of the resurrection, Thomas doesn't believe. It is not until a week later, when Jesus appears and allows the doubter to put his hands into his wounds, that Thomas believes, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” This prompts Jesus' response: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29).

Read more...

Ready, set, sprint!

Dear Parishioners,

I can't tell you how many sprints I've done in my lifetime: sprints throughout grade school and high school for football, basketball, and baseball; sprints in college and then in seminary to arrive at class on time, as well as for sports training; sprints as pastor to answer a ringing phone, to beat traffic across Touhy, to turn on lights in church, to tag a St. Juliana student during capture-the-flag in gym class. So many sprints.

There is a certain level of abandonment when you sprint. You're not contained as when you're jogging. Your leg muscles are fully extended and your arms are literally reaching out as far as they can go. Just one more ounce of abandonment and you'll fall over.

There is also a sense of commitment when you sprint. You're completely in the moment. You can't stop casually. The finish line alone is the object of your focus.

Read more...

So Much Duality

Dear Parishioners,

Triumph and Tragedy. I can't help but think of that phrase, the title of the sixth volume of Winston Churchill's narrative of the Second World War, in association with Palm Sunday. There are so many contradictions and paradoxes in the event of Christ's passion. So much beauty; so much ugliness. So much good; so much evil. So much love; so much hate. Yes, a triumphant and a tragic moment in the lexicon of human experiences.

Veronica, Simon of Cyrene, and Joseph of Arimathea—such beautiful, caring figures who supported our Lord. Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate—such ugly, cowardly, and jealous figures who trashed our Lord.

God the Father—such a good figure, the benevolent creator of the universe, consubstantial with his Son, who loved his son and all those given to his son, and loved them to the end. The Devil, Satan himself—such an evil figure who hated the Father so much he would do anything to attack him, even killing his innocent son.

Read more...

An Other Forty Days

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton underwent her own forty day trial. In the early 1800s, she and her husband planned a trip to Italy. It was hoped the Italian climate would improve William Seton's health, for he had tuberculosis. But, as the saying goes, God had other plans. Husband and wife were quarantined in the New York port for forty days, and William died on account of the quarantine. They were basically stuck on a cold, wet, and small ship with little food.

Elizabeth survived and continued on with the journey to Italy. Now, Elizabeth was an Episcopalian from a very wealthy New York family. A "high society" young woman, she was a skilled musician, equestrian, and conversationalist, not to mention both beautiful and highly intelligent, speaking French fluently.

Read more...