Make Room

The Irish novelist and poet, James Joyce (1882-1941) earned a reputation for his challenging (that’s putting it mildly) literature. Case in point: Finnegans Wake. The fact that this novel is largely unread attests to its complexity. And yet, Joyce’s “Here comes everybody,” the phrase the author used to describe the Catholic Church, is probably one of the novel’s most familiar and oft quoted  phrases. “A big tent” is another phrase that analogizes the Church’s capacity to house the vast diversity of believers.

We need not look further than Saint Peter and Saint Paul to understand that diversity has been a part of the church fabric from the very start. The two men could not have been more different in terms of their gifts, personalities, backgrounds and the origins of their faith. It is improbable that they would have seen eye to eye on many topics. But while intuition and heart (frequently without comprehension) guided Peter’s rock solid faith, and logic, intellect, and a conviction that his authority came from God led Paul’s, both men were passionately dedicated to Jesus Christ and gave their lives in service to him, his mission, and the unity of the Church. They did not let their differences get in the way of the mission.

Saint Peter and Saint Paul are models for us today when divisiveness and polarity threaten not only the unity of the Catholic church but our overall ability to work and live peaceably.

Let’s remember just how big this tent really is—there’s room for everybody—and devote ourselves to working for unity. 

Come on in!

Food for Life

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood (Corpus Christi) (A)

The Church was born from Jesus’ table ministry and grew in great numbers around the tables of early Christians who experienced the Risen Lord in the sharing of the Eucharist. The act of taking the Body and Blood of Christ into our own bodies is different from ingesting an ordinary, worldly meal since unlike regular food which provides temporarily nourishment, the Eucharist feeds and sustains us for life. But that’s not all. Worldly meals presume boundaries, invitation lists, and disproportionate servings. It’s an unacceptable truth that many don’t eat at all. Jesus’ table ministry included guests who would have been excluded from most tables, and everyone had their fill.

It is essential for Catholics to remember that Eucharist is an activity. When we share this food, we become what we eat; we become what we drink, and are transformed. If we partake, and become one with Christ, we are duty-bound to attend to the worldly nourishment of those who do not have enough to eat. As an evangelizing people we are called to be that one bread, one body, one blood for others. We are called to be Eucharist.

Today’s readings can be found here. 

Three in One?

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (A)

How does 1 + 1 + 1 equal one? With God, all things are possible, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us to grasp. St. Patrick presented the shamrock as an example of how three can be one. Other symbols such as the pretzel, the Celtic triquetra, and overlapping rings for example, have been used with limited success to analogize how three entities can be understood as one while each maintains its differences.

Another method used by early church leaders bypasses the geometry altogether and likens the Trinity to a Greek dance called the “Perichoresis.” Maybe you’ve seen it at a Greek wedding, or even have participated in it: dancers hold hands and rotate in a circle, and as they whirl, people on the outside are invited to enter, causing the circle to increase. It is a playful, yet meaningful dance of belonging and union. Perichoresis as a metaphor for the Trinity envisions the three persons: The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit engaged in a dance of joy-filled giving and receiving. Trinity understood as perichoresis is a dance of creation that extends a continuous invitation to each one of us to participate in God’s life.

And the reason for the dance? Love. Love is why we exist. John’s Gospel tells us God’s act of love in the incarnation is not to condemn sinners but to save their lives [John 12:47].Jesus is about life, not death. The Holy Spirit empowers us every day to fulfill Jesus’ great commandment to Love one another.

How well do we perform the perichoresis? Have we allowed ourselves to be swept up into the circle of God’s love, extending our arms to gather in those who stand outside it? Do we understand the Source of creation in this holy dance and see how each of us fit into God’s plan? As an evangelizing people our daily activities—particularly those that take place in the world— must revolve around the loving care, encouragement, and support of one another so as to live peacefully, and to recognize one another as God’s own.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Cor 13:13

Today’s readings can be found here.

Pentecost Sunday: When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled

pentecostSomething many Christians do not realize is that Pentecost (or Shavuot) is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the fiftieth day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally a time of thanksgiving for the wheat harvest, Shavuot also commemorates God’s giving of the Law to Moses.

On that day in the upper room the Apostles were devoting themselves to prayer according to their tradition. And, just as the Law of Moses unified Israel, the events of this particular Shavuot following the Ascension of Christ, when the apostles received the Holy Spirit, gave birth to the Christian Church.

Imagine the energy! The Apostles, Jesus’ mother, Mary, some women, and his brothers (Acts 1:12-14) were together in the upper room pouring themselves into prayer. They were afraid and confused. We can imagine their discussions as they expressed to one another all that they knew of recent events–what they knew to be true. They prayed together. And the Holy Spirit responded by igniting within them a holiness that manifested itself in language, a language which needs no translation. The Spirit becoming Word. The Word made flesh!

Then they left the safety of the upper room and went out into the streets and astonished everyone with their passion for sharing the Word.

When we speak of the mighty acts of God, we speak the same language.

It is that same Holy Spirit which drives each one of us to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate the fulfillment of Pentecost—the birth of the Church—by recalling the Shavuot, by devoting ourselves to prayer, contemplating the living Body of Christ in whom we dwell, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to ignite our passion for sowing the Gospel seeds!