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What the Church Does Not Believe

This Lent has me digging through the Apostle’s Creed. Viewed in a certain direction, it not only says what we believe; it lets us in on what we do not believe. The first article of the Creed, my last column, says Christians believe in one God and this one God is the Father who made both heaven and . . . . Continue Reading »

The grittiness of Christian Faith

Written from Jerusalem: Walking through the narrow, winding streets of Jerusalem’s Old City on my first visit here in fifteen years, I was powerfully struck once again by the grittiness of Christianity, the palpable connection between the faith and the quotidian realities of life. For here, . . . . Continue Reading »

Imperfect Goodbyes and the Hope of Resurrection

I was on the phone with my mother the moment when my grandmother died. The two of them, along with my father, were together in the living room of the house where I grew up in Arkansas. My grandmother, having fallen and broken her hip a few weeks earlier, had been brought home, and for several days . . . . Continue Reading »

Themes for Surviving “Ordinary Time”

I’m fortunate to hear good preaching on a regular basis. But even the best Catholic preaching these days leans far more toward moral exhortation than biblical exposition. This strikes me as a missed opportunity. For if one of the tasks of preaching today is to help the people of the Church . . . . Continue Reading »

Homily for the Mass for Francis Cardinal George

The world must have seemed upside down when the disciples left the holy city Jerusalem. Jerusalem was believed to be the “true pole of the earth, the great king’s city” (Ps. 47:2). It was supposed to be God’s dwelling on earth, the city of David, where the Messiah was expected to reign and restore Israel. And yet, the one who they believed to be Messiah and Redeemer had come into Jerusalem, only to die. Now everything was in question. Their disappointment rings through to this day with startling clarity: “We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel” (Lk. 14:21). We were hoping…A similar lament can be discerned in modern society, in which Christendom gives way to a “post-Christian” world. Perhaps not surprisingly, these words also speak to a profoundly disintegrating experience for any individual: angst. Reflecting on the mental world of the disciples, Cardinal George once commented: “Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we can feel that we are victims of time, fate, circumstances and external factors. We might even feel that our world is caving in on us…[The disciples] were caught in expectations they thought were now doomed…But [they] were wrong to give up on their hope.” Continue Reading »

Correcting St. John

Don’t get me wrong. I love John’s Gospel, but it has a serious problem. Due to a misreported episode around the resurrection of Christ, which I am hopefully about to fix, the Apostle Thomas has gone around for centuries with a cloud dodging his reputation.In the accepted telling of John’s version, Thomas ends up being the only disciple who doubts that Christ was raised. Come this Second Sunday of the Resurrection, when this reading shows up like clockwork in the lectionary, Thomas is going to get roughed up all over again from church pulpits for his doubt. Don’t be like Thomas, we’ll be told. He did a bad thing. Continue Reading »

Easter and Evangelism

Galatians 1:15-18 is not your basic witness-to-the-Resurrection text. Yet St. Paul’s mini-spiritual autobiography helps us understand just how radically the experience of the Risen Lord changed the first disciples’ religious worldview, and why an evangelical imperative was built into that experience. Continue Reading »

St. John's Seventh Sign

The eleventh chapter of John opens with Jesus across the Jordan, away from Judea, laying low after having escaped being stoned to death at the Temple. It is there that he receives word from Bethany—from Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters—to hurry and aid his friend who is sick. Continue Reading »

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