All posts tagged: Ordinary Time

Now We Must Dismantle the Tree

  Well, so that is that.  Now we must dismantle the tree, Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes— Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic. So begins the somewhat bleak conclusion of W. H. Auden’s For the Time Being. Written in 1944, in the thick of what surely must have been difficult series Christmases for war-torn Europe and its American ally, Auden’s Christmas oratorio concludes the story of Christ’s birth with a final statement on the dissatisfaction of the Christmas season. Auden treats on our own failure to live into the vision of love witnessed at the feast, on our desire to distract ourselves from the present moment with tribulation or joy. But, here we are, after the Christmas season ends, with ordinary time, a upsetting juxtaposition with the rich liveliness of the season of the feast. Auden’s portrait of the harsh contrast between the Christmas season and “the time being,” conflicts sharply with most American Christians’ (author included) preferred pictures of the Christmas season, wrapped in the glow of …

Our Baptism in Ordinary Time

“Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3). We, the baptized, have been born anew. This can only sound routine if we have thoroughly domesticated our faith, but I am rather sure most of us have. With this new birth, we become capable not only of seeing the kingdom of God at the end of time, but even here and now in glimpses, the beginning of Christ’s coming reign. There is nothing “ordinary” about this, even if it rolls off the tongue like a jingle or a Social Security Number. The goal of parish life is to remind us of the startling nature of our Baptism every day. As Blessed Dom Columba Marmion would have us remember, we who are baptized would start each day at the 14th Station of the Cross, for we are buried with Christ in Baptism. There, nestled in the womb of Christ’s tomb, the rest of our day precedes as this …

Come and See

A city isn’t just a group of people living closely together. It’s a place with pride, with a vision of what it means to belong together. New York City is the city that never sleeps. Los Angeles is the city of possibilities (and of constant outdoor recreation). They have different visions of human happiness, of what it means to live together. Jerusalem is a city with a vision. A vision of all humanity redeemed in her midst, worshipping the living God. A city with the ultimate vision. The Book of Isaiah describes this redeemed city, restored to its glory after the Babylonian captivity. In Jerusalem, all will receive the grace of comfort (cf. Is 66:13). They will delight in the prosperity brought about through the glory of God. For in Jerusalem, all the nations of the earth will offer praise to God for his wondrous works (cf. Ps 66:4–5). In the Gospel of Luke, the seventy-two disciples (or seventy depending upon manuscript tradition) go out two by two to invite everyone to move to this …

The Stinginess of the Sinner

We often think about sin as extravagance. The sinner is the one who drinks too much, gambles too much, who desires pleasure too much. On the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, we consider the stinginess of the sinner. The sinner who loves not enough. The Gospel from Luke is rich in drama. Jesus is dining at table with a Pharisee when a sinful woman enters the home. We do not know the nature of the sin, but we know that it was known by all those assembled at table that day. It was public. She enters the house, washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, and anoints him with oil. Here, the sinful woman joins in the work of public penance performed by King David. David recognizes his sins and calls out to God for forgiveness. He lays on sackcloth through the night: “Lord, forgive the wrong I have done” (Ps 32:5c). David does penance extravagantly. The unnamed woman does penance extravagantly. Simon is stingy: “‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who and …