All posts tagged: Cross

The Cruciform Shape of the Family

Embarking on the journey of marriage and family life is filled with many joyful moments but also with moments of suffering. This suffering is inherently relational, meaning that by entering into commitments such as marriage and parenthood, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded by such commitment. For example, think of the newlyweds who ache with overwhelming love for one another, a mother who labors to meet her child, the infertile couple who longs to conceive, the parents who suffer with and for a sick child, or the elderly man who sits at his dying wife’s bedside after a lifetime shared together. As we can see, suffering takes a unique, relational shape in the context of marriage and family life. This shape reflects Christ’s suffering in the sense that he entered into relationship with mankind, therefore opening himself up to such relational wounds—wounds of love. When we gaze upon Christ crucified, we see not only the horrific suffering of his Passion but also a sign of hope in his Resurrection. However, it …

Advent and Discernment

The Vocation of Discernment It strikes me how frequently opportunities for discernment become moments of crisis in life. As an undergraduate in my senior year, the impending future after graduation is a popular topic of discussion amongst my friends and classmates. The various dimensions of how life will look after graduation have been coming together like the pieces of a puzzle for the past four years. Yet for many seniors, a few pieces of that puzzle have yet to be found—the image of the future is incomplete. When we realize that we cannot gaze at our future selves with clarity, a sense of urgency and anxiety can set in. This often seems like the appropriate time to employ a spirit of discernment by asking God what he wants us to do with our lives and how we can proceed forward. The process of discernment involves not only listening for the words of Jesus, “Come, follow me” (Mt 1:7; Mk 4:19), but also preparing to go where he beckons. Disposing ourselves to hearing these words often …

The Saint of Calcutta: Mother Teresa and the Pain of Joy

On September 4, 2016, the woman who claimed that if she ever became a saint she would “surely be one of ‘darkness’”[1] will enter the canon of the Church in broad daylight, for all the world to see. Till the end of the age, the universal name of charity that was “Mother Teresa” will become “Saint Teresa of Calcutta.” With the possible exception of St. John Paul II, no saint in the history of the Church has been known by so many people at the time of canonization, which makes the holiness of this saint both more available for observation and more difficult to discern. Knowing more about someone is not the same as knowing them well and in coming to know Mother Teresa as Saint Teresa, we are asked to deepen our knowledge of her according to her holiness, which her very public persona both hides and discloses. If she is a saint of darkness she is also a saint of joy. Yet, knowing her as the one in darkness and the one in …

The Sword of Division

The stark reality of Jesus’ words in the Gospels should often shake us to our inner core. Jesus didn’t come into the world to preach the Gospel of niceness. Rather, Jesus proclaims today, “‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!’” (Lk 12:49). The imagery of fire in the Gospel is connected to the final judgment that Jesus has come to enact upon the world. It is the fire of Pentecost and the final threshing alike. This moment of divine judgment requires an ultimate decision on our parts. Has Jesus come to enact the Kingdom of God in our midst, or is he just another wordsmith assembling pretty prose for us to savor? The answer is decidedly the former: “From now on a household of five with divided, three against two and two against three . . . ” (Lk 12:52). Jesus does not come to enact a kingdom of quaint domestic peace. If you say yes to Jesus, then there could be enmity between father …

The Cost of Discipleship

The cost of being one of Jesus’ disciples in the Gospel of Luke is steep. As we learn on the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, to follow Jesus may require us to leave behind everything. Last Sunday, we heard that Jesus’ messianic mission is directing him toward a sacrificial death for the sake of the nations. Today, Jesus is moving toward the city of Jerusalem. His ministry in the rest of the Gospel will be defined by his mission of self-giving love upon the Cross. Jesus’ mission is not always successful. He walks through Samaria, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, “but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem” (Lk 9:53). The peace of the Gospel meets the resistance of an old dispute between the Judeans and the Samaritans. They cannot welcome the Lord because his mission does not align with their own. Out of the hostile crowd emerges a voice, “‘I will follow you wherever you go’” (Lk 9:57). Jesus is normally the one who calls disciples, and yet …

Kings of the King

This isn’t the behavior of a Messiah. You can almost hear the crowd gathered around Jesus murmuring this to themselves. They haven’t followed this prophetic miracle-worker, this teacher extraordinaire to watch him die. He’s supposed to be the king, the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ who has come into the world to rid Israel of Roman authority, to restore the Temple to pure worship, and gather all the nations in Jerusalem. That’s what Peter calls Jesus: “The Christ of God” (Lk 9:20). He’s the king, after all—God’s Son, who is chosen to rule over the nations. You know David? Think bigger. You know Solomon? Think even bigger. “‘The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised’” (Lk 9:22). This is not, at least upon initial hearing, bigger. Jesus in the Gospel of Luke is re-interpreting for the disciples what it means to be the Messiah. His throne is not upon the temple mount but …