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Showing posts from February, 2015

Jesus as "an equal-opportunity pisser-off-er"

This Sunday's gospel contains the scene of Jesus telling his followers that he is going to suffer, be betrayed by religious leaders, be killed, and then rise again.  It's not pleasant news for us to hear, and it wasn't pleasant news for Peter to hear. In fact when Peter - representing not only the other disciples but the Church - hears Jesus talk about suffering and betrayal and death as an integral part of his ministry, he's mad. Peter rebukes -- reprimands, scolds, objects -- Jesus for talking that way. In response, Jesus rebukes Peter right back! Jesus gives Peter (and by implication, all his disciples and the Church today) the strongest criticism he gives anywhere in the Bible: "Get behind me, Satan! Your mind is set not on divine things, but on human things." Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., in his wonderful and powerful book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion , writes "The strategy and stance of Jesus was consistent in that it

"Muscle Sinks" -- Why We Should Make Lenten Resolutions that are Impossible to Keep

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent invite us to self-examination and repentance through the ancient disciplines of prayer, fasting, self-denial and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. Ash Wednesday and Lent invite us – challenge us – to take an good hard look at ourselves, to use the season to examine the lives we are living and make changes. But one thing that makes Lenten resolutions different from New Year’s resolutions is that during Lent the focus is on God and God’s work in our lives . In other words, Lent is a reminder that self-improvement is not something we do on our own strength. What if improvement was God’s initiative? What if God’s grace was already at work within us and what we needed to do is cooperate?

Why Ashes? And Why give things up for Lent?

Perhaps the two most commonly asked questions about Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent are, " why do we put ashes on our foreheads? " and " Why do we give things up for Lent?  Let me take a stab at answering those questions today: