March 19, 2019

Whatever is Jesus doing up in Samaritan hill country? He’s Jewish and Samaritans aren’t. (Jn. 4ff) They had a cordial hatred of each other, Jews and Samaritans. And for the usual reasons: it was religious, doctrinal, cultural, ethnic, political — all of those things. They were kissing cousins, really, but neither strayed near the other’s temple. A stinging criticism of Jesus (Jn. 8:48) from the Pharisees alleged he was a Samaritan, and had a demon. Why stop with one insult… Read more

March 12, 2019

The Feast of St. Joseph, Guardian of Our Lord, is an orphan solemnity in the Church (discounting Lenten St. Joseph Tables). Not much is made of it, not really. Right now it just hangs around in the middle of Lent, March 19, pretty much as it has since the 15th century. I blame St. Matthew for that. It is Matthew who first introduces us to the man later generations, including our generation, calls the Guardian of Our Lord. After that,… Read more

March 7, 2019

Theodicy is one of those odd theological words popping up. It is supposed to answer the problem of evil in a creation made by an omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good) God against the clear evidence of evil in the world. It is a philosophical approach seeking to defend God’s providential care against the manifest indications that something is out to get us, and by any objective criterion, it is evil. Why, if God is good, does He allow evil? Why save the baby Jesus and let… Read more

March 5, 2019

I still remember setting aside the empty paper towel roll for Hattie’s gerbil. Hattie was my then 13-year-old daughter, now headed to 22, and I was under oft-repeated instructions to save the cardboard tube. The little creature enjoyed running through the tube before settling down to chew it up into more bedding. Should you wonder – and I can’t think why you would – we could figure about 20 minutes for the tube from a bathroom tissue roll and maybe 45… Read more

February 28, 2019

I don’t know what possessed me. . . . . . When I said that . . . When I did that . . . Or when I could not restrain my hand from doing harm; my mouth from uttering hurt. What Jesus encounters in the Capernaum synagogue―a man possessed―stretches contemporary credibility, though anything demonic is fascinating. What most of us know about possession—the Capernaum sort—is what we’ve seen from Ghost Busters or The Exorcist or The Amityville Horror or… Read more

February 26, 2019

I went into the guest bathroom this morning, just this morning, and found wiry black hair in the sink. One of my grandsons left it. I have two biracial grandsons, so I can’t say which one left it. It didn’t bother me; it never does any more. Still, it was a mild PTSD moment, shoving my memories back to college, back to Wayland, my black college roommate and his wiry hair, and our arguments about cleaning the sink and how… Read more

February 21, 2019

The pastor that loomed largest in my childhood memory was Pr. Harold H. Brokering. He just died but a few days ago at age 93. The news hit me with some strength. I preached for his 1988 40th anniversary of ordination. Coincidentally, I was also preaching for the 20th ordination anniversary Pr. Glenn Isernhagen, my pastor in 1976 as I entered seminary. Brokering and Isernhagen were serving the same parish together. They were 20 years apart and maybe the best… Read more

February 19, 2019

A little marked anniversary is January 30, 1973. That is the day, ten days after Richard Nixon’s second inauguration, that G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord, Jr. were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping for breaking into the Watergate complex housing the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Five other men aiding the break-in plead guilty to lesser charges earlier. A local journalist friend recently handed me three Watergate books by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and promised – maybe threatened… Read more

February 14, 2019

This son of David has no name, none that the author of Second Samuel thought to record. Yet this son of David will die for David’s sin. (2 Sam. Chapters 11-12) The story of the unnamed son of David is disturbing, and disgusting in scale. It starts with David, great king of Israel, and it ends with him, him and a son of no name. Usually the whole tale is told as a romance, David and Bathsheba, as if in this… Read more

February 12, 2019

We pray that He remembers us, even as in dying we may not remember Him. Just lately emerging from shrinking forests and forced to find habitat on the savannah, our hominid ancestors became human and acquired a sense of self. We awakened one morning, so it seems, and if we could not say who we were, we at least could say we were not like the animals. We knew that we would die and the animals did not. We possessed an… Read more

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