September 12, 2014

Exaltation of the Holy Cross - A


The Bridge Love Builds

The basic tenets of the Christian faith can be found all in this passage of John’s Gospel.  Indeed, the Cross summarizes it all.
  • We can’t go to God on our own (“No one has gone up to heaven”).
  • God loves us so much that God does not want us to perish, but to have eternal life.
  • God’s love is so great that God’s only Son comes to bring us to God
  • That’s the only way.
  • And the Son does that by his death on the cross.  
There, the cross is the bridge between us and God.  It is the bridge built of love.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross


Image source:  Holy Cross Church, Champaign, IL

September 6, 2014

23rd Sunday - A

Matthew 18: 15-20

In My Name

There are two contexts we should take into consideration in reading this Gospel passage.

First, the context of the Sunday Gospels of Year A. This passage of Matthew 18: 15 – 20 follows what we heard a week ago from Matthew 16: 21-27. There, Jesus invited anyone who “wishes” to become his disciple “to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

And today, Jesus gives a concrete demand of how to put that instruction into practice, namely what to do when others sin against us.

Second, the context of Chapter 18 of Matthew. This passage is preceded by Jesus’ instruction on how to care for “the little ones who believe in [him].” The greatest crime occurs when scandals cause the loss of one of these little ones.

Next comes the parable of the good shepherd who goes searching for the lost sheep.  The parable ends with Jesus’ affirmation, “it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (v. 14)

And then, in today’s Gospel (verses 15-19) Jesus insists that efforts must be made to keep God’s children in God’s house.

Following this passage, Jesus teaches the seemingly impossible demand of forgiving one’s brother “seventy-seven times” (v. 21-22). Afterwards, Jesus expands on the reason for such a demand – God has forgiven us first to the greatest extent. He teaches this with the parable of a servant whose master forgives him a huge debt, yet he is unforgiving toward a fellow servant who owes him a tiny amount.

Jesus calls his followers to form and follow him carrying the cross to preserve the community of love and forgiveness where two or three are gathered in his name. Such a community witnesses to the presence of God among humanity. In this kind of a community, “There am I in the midst of them” (v. 20)

23rd Sunday - A (September 7, 2014)


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August 30, 2014

22nd Sunday - A

Matthew 16: 21-27

What Messiah

Today’s Gospel passage follows immediately the passage we heard last Sunday.
In the full text, there is a transition phrase that is omitted here, which is “From that time on.”

 A small detail, perhaps. 

But we must not lose sight of the link that connects the two passages.

Peter and the other disciples professed their faith in Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16).  And it is their faith in a Messiah of their own definition. 

Now, Jesus tells them God’s definition of the Messiah. 

Don’t we often find ourselves like Peter, believe in and are ready to follow the Messiah who operates according to our agenda?

The invitation and challenge of discipleship is to follow the Messiah who operates according to God’s agenda.  

22nd Sunday - A (August 31, 2014)


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August 23, 2014

21st Sunday - A


Matthew 16: 13-20

Listening and Observing

A review of the most recent Sunday Gospel passages might give us some background in understanding today’s passage.  For three weeks, we heard Jesus teaching the mysteries of God’s Kingdom through parables (15th, 16th, and 17th Sundays).  The next three weeks, Jesus revealed the presence of God’s Kingdom and power through miracles and healing (18th, 19th, and 20th Sundays).

The disciples were present in the audience listening to the parables.  They were also present or even took part in the miracles (feeding the people). 

Now, Jesus asks them, “Who do you say that I am?”

Jesus is among us.  He continues to reveal God’s Kingdom to us through his teachings and his actions.

And the same question continues to be presented to each one of us today.  

I can answer that question only if I listen to the voice of Jesus and observing his actions in the events of my life.  If either part is missing, I might not get the full picture of who he is.