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Showing posts from March, 2013

What Wondrous Love is This? A Franciscan Perspective on Holy Week and Easter.

Ever since this past Sunday (Palm Sunday) as I have been reflecting on the great mysteries of Holy Week the words to the folk hymn, What Wondrous Love is this?, now often sung in Catholic parishes during Lent, kept coming to mind.  The question raised by the title became the overarching theme of my own personal meditation and guided the homily that I preached for the friars here in St. Petersburg on Holy Thursday.

   Ever since the middle ages there has been a Christian obsession with the bloody details of Jesus' Passion and Death and with that came the evoking of guilt due to our sin being the cause of that.  Now I'm not suggesting that the sin of humanity did not cause the suffering of Jesus, but rather refocusing on what the mystery of the Cross ought to evoke in us. 

   In our Franciscan theological tradition Jesus did not come to get punished.  He came to love us. We hold that it was the plan of God from the beginning to be united with God's creation even if we ha…

Serving the Poor, A Challenge for Deomocrats, Republicans and all of us.

Over the past two weeks I think that all of us have been moved by the humility of Pope Francis and by his genuine concern for the poor.  He has expressed a desire to have a Church for the poor and of the poor.  How does this translate into our everyday lives?

   I am a Franciscan and delighted by the fact that a Jesuit Pope has taken the name Francis, but I am also challenged by that fact. It makes me want to be a better Franciscan and to simplify my life even more.  The initials OFM after my name stand for Order of Friars Minor.  Even knowing that the term Friars Minor is not clear to everyone.  The minores (as opposed to the maiores) at the time of Francis were not only the very poor, but all those who were excluded from power, who had no say in things.  That included ordinary small merchants as well as lepers and beggars, all who were outsiders, as it were.  Francis wanted to be among the minores and above all let them know that they were not on the outside with God or with him…

What a Week it Has Been--The New Pope and a Gospel Reflection

After a week of hectic travel I am at St. Michael's Church in Crowley, LA, to begin a parish mission.  On Wednesday afternoon I was gathered with the pastor and the parish staff at Jesus, Our Risen Savior, in Spartanburg, SC when the TV showed white smoke emerging from the chimney at the Vatican.  An hour later came the good news, " Gaudium magnum annuncio vobis,Habemus Papam."  The real stunner came a moment later when his name was announced--Franciscus, Francis.  I myself wondered if it might be Francis Xavier since the new pope is a Jesuit, but no, it is indeed Francis of Assisi after whom he is named. I have always sort of joked that the perfect Catholic has a Jesuit mind with a Franciscan heart, and this is what we have in Pope Francis.

   Many are asking about the kind of changes that he might make in terms of several hot button issues.  As understandable as that is I have always felt that a change in the way of doing business in the Church must precede any othe…

Laetare Sunday--A Celebration of Mercy

We are arriving at the middle of Lent and the Sunday that the Church calls "Laetare" or rejoicing Sunday.  We are reminded as we do penance that the purpose of the penance is to be ready to not only celebrate the great feast of the Resurrection, but to be embraced by the Risen One.

   This year's readings on Sundays are from cycle C which features the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel text is the well-known, but not always well understood, Parable of the Prodigal Son, a story that Pope Benedict XVI, in the first volume of his Jesus of Nazareth series, calls the parable of the Good Father. There is good reason for this because the two sons in the story are very typical.  It is the Father (God the Father) who stands out.

   When the younger Son begins to return we are told that the Father "ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him." (Lk 15:20).  We have heard this story so often that we take that action for granted, but the first hearers of this parable at the…