March 04, 2018
It surprises us. Jesus makes a whip, turns over tables and expels people from the holy Temple. The area is both a courtyard with access to sacred space for worship and a thoroughfare for visitors to move in and out of the city of Jerusalem. Pilgrims need to exchange offensive Roman coins (with images of the emperor or deities) in order to purchase an animal for sacrifice. (After the burnt offering meat from the animals sacrificed is given to the poor.) Jesus may be mad at the exorbitant fees but the magnitude of the crowd and noise of transactions are a major distraction. Jesus cries out: “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s House a marketplace!” The prophet action and words of Jesus will cost him. What he says and does threaten the established order. Jesus is both good shepherd (pastor) and preacher of the imminent coming of God’s Kingdom that demands a response from those who hear his preaching. Jesus proclaims both salvation and judgment.
We admire Billy Graham. My mom watched him on television. He was pastor and preacher to countless Americans who attended his crusades. He was a confidant of presidents. I wonder if he ever felt tension between being pastor and preacher? It is not easy to speak truth to power.
A pastor’s role is to counsel, comfort, encourage and forgive. A preacher’s role is to speak God’s Word that can both console and confront. For example, in our first reading from Exodus, God “delivers” the commandments that demand reverence for God, for God’s name and for keeping God’s Sabbath; that prohibit murder, adultery, stealing, dishonesty, coveting your neighbor’s property or body. It is not easy to bring the Word of God and the Gospel message into the assembly when political discourse has become so polarized. What is the preacher to say regarding: accessible health care, immigration, gun safety, sanctity of human life in the womb, respect for dignity of women, unemployment, poverty, domestic violence, addiction, individual rights, welfare of the community and clergy abuse of children?
Sadly new revelations of teens abused by a priest are part of the news cycle. It coincides with an already planned Diocesan announcement of an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. Bishop Malone explains: “Individuals who have previously made claims will be contacted and invited to participate in this voluntary program offering monetary settlements. The victims and our Church in WNY cannot move forward until the pain of the past is properly addressed. We pray this monetary compensation together with the acknowledgment that they were hurt can be a significant step in helping them to heal.” Former NYS Supreme Court Justice Jerome Gorski and former NYS Supreme Court Justice and Surrogate Judge Barbara Howe will administer the program. The Bishop urges persons who have been deeply harmed to come forward.
Lent is a season of honesty and introspection, repentance, conversion, healing and forgiveness.
In Wednesday’s Buffalo News I caught Mr. Wilson looking out the window in Dennis the Menace. Mrs. Wilson comments: “What’s bothering you George? Dennis isn’t even here.” Mr. Wilson replies: “That’s just it…He’s probably on his way right now.” Mr. Wilson is anxious! St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” W... READ MORE
We detect urgency in the voice of Jesus. “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.” John has been arrested! Jesus seizes the moment as if time is running out. Jesus in the Gospel according to St. Mark is on a rescue mission. But he takes time to engage Simon and his brother Andrew: “Come after me and I will make ... READ MORE
“The Magi set out because of a deep desire prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was though they had always been waiting for that star.” (Pope Benedict XVI) How often do we walk before dawn or during the night and not observe the stars? But on occasion the night sky catches our attention and in a twinkling of a star we are keenly aware of the magnif... READ MORE
The feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth is an occasion to speak of the importance of family no matter when the time or place. Families connect us to the past and create a sense of belonging; families are a cell or workshop of virtue and discipleship; and families kindle hope in the future. Jesus Ben Sira, author of our first reading, encourages young men (and daughters... READ MORE
Christmas carols make this time of the year so special. The traditional English carol “The First Noel” can be traced back to the 13th century; “Silent Night” 1816; “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in Latin “Adeste Fideles” 1743; “Joy to the World” 1719. But not all carols are that old. “The Little Drummer Boy” originally “Carol of the Drum” was compose... READ MORE