Saturday, October 27, 2007

Words of encouragement

Luke 7:16

Fear seized them all and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited His people!"

"Human beings," said T.S. Eliot, "cannot bear too much reality." I think of this whenever I hear people say, "It would have been cool to see Jesus raise somebody from the dead." Such people seem to be stone blind to the normal realities of the human condition. The widow's son did not lie down and die in order to titillate a curiosity seeker. His dead body was not just an anonymous cadaver for resurrection experiments. It was the body of somebody's child, somebody's friend, somebody's beloved, and his loss was a wrenching grief, not a chance for experimentation. When the resurrection occurred sensible people did not say, "Cool!" They reacted with fear bordering on terror. When death is conquered, we face the Ultimate Power in the universe and our response is rightly awe and fear, mixed with a sight of glory that is far beyond the vision of the curiosity-seeker.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Word of Encouragement

Luke 4:43

But He said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also for I was sent for this purpose."

"The sin of Service is the sin of Satan," said G.K. Chesterton. Taken by itself, this arresting statement sounds weird, but in context it makes sense. Chesterton is complaining about boosters and social gospel types who put a capital "S" on Service and make it the highest good. His complaint is well-founded when we realize this. For, of course, members of the Waffen SS had a strong devotion to Service, but it didn't exactly make them saints. Rather it unveiled the evil that comes of taking a secondary thing like the Fatherland and making it the primary thing like God. Lucifer did the same thing with Himself and, in the process, became Satan. Jesus served, but He always kept His perspective. Service was for one purpose: to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Words of Encouragement


Matthew 25:20-21

And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, "Master, you delivered to me five talents here I have made five talents more." His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much, enter into the joy of your master."

One of the curious linguistic coincidences in Scripture is that "talent" has a double meaning for us. In this passage, a "talent" refers to a unit of money worth more than 15 years of a laborer's wages. But, by a happy coincidence, it also evokes in the minds of English speakers the modern meaning of "special ability or gift." This is good, because it helps us see clearly what often mystifies modern readers about the conclusion of the parable of the talents. The moral is not that the King is absurdly generous toward diligent servants and unduly harsh toward timid people. It is rather what we all learned in tap dance class, gymnastics, or piano lessons: use it or lose it. Biblical talents are simply images of any grace God has given us.
We must exercise the muscle of grace or it will wither.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Words of Encouragement

World Without End!

Revelation 21:1

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more".

The "end of the world" will be, for the saved, like the "end of the pregnancy" for the newborn. It won't really be the end of anything except for the end of World Trade Center bombings, death, grief, anguish, and the thousand natural shocks flesh is heir to. Rather, it will be the beginning of everything. It will be the heaven and earth we have always longed for, of a world in which life is a continual struggle against our own worst inclinations, of a world in which we find it natural and easy to love, of a world in which God is readily known and loved in every beam of light and whiff of air around us. That world is already here in the foretaste that is the Eucharist. Someday it will be here in full.

When the Son of Man comes, let us be among those who welcome the Bridegroom.
O Lord, Come! Maranatha!