Quiet Corner
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History does not exactly recall Jesus Christ as a rabble rouser, but Jesus did engage in provocative behavior. Twice, once at the beginning of his public life, and once at the end of his public appearances, Christ disrupted the business of the Temple by overturning the money changers’ tables and driving the pious dealers away with a whip. more
The Gospel according to St. John has no parables in great contrast to the Gospel accounts of Saints Matthew, Mark and Luke, which literally teem with parabolic lessons. This lack of parables does not mean that St. John offers no vivid images, no colorful sketches. In fact, St. John’s narrative employs not only graphic illustrations like the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd, but more importantly, the fourth evangelist proposes a series of imaginative miracle accounts that rely greatly on lively dialogue, vivid symbols, touching humanity and, most significantly, sincere professions of faith on the part of each one of Jesus’ beneficiaries. more
Pope Francis’ most celebrated and most misunderstood remark certainly is his in-flight comment on homosexual persons while returning from Brazil. The Pope famously observed, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” His Holiness’ final words are well recalled, “Who am I to judge?” The Roman Catholic governor and the Roman Catholic attorney general of Illinois both cited these final words when signing into law the recognition of so-called same-sex marriage in the state of Illinois. The Advocate, the nation’s oldest homosexual publication, happily reported, “The brevity of that statement and the outsized attention it got immediately are evidence of the pope’s sway. His posing a simple question with very Christian roots, when uttered in this context by this man, “Who am I to judge?” became a signal to Catholics and the world that the new pope is not like the old pope.” Again, those final words are highlighted and the pope’s fuller context ignored. more
Warned by the death of St. John the Baptist, and then alerted by the antagonism that his own preaching and healing provoked, Jesus knew that tough times were ahead for himself and for his hapless disciples. more
One Fox News commentator has unkindly, but unsurprisingly written, “Pope Francis makes lots of noise about the poor, and the liberal media fawn over him at every occasion.” Indeed, the publication of Pope Francis’ first exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” gave the pope’s liberal enthusiasts great delight and the pope’s conservative critics much displeasure. In the document, Francis says that “the powerful feed on the powerless” in a free market economy, and that those who engage in the market become “incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor.” He says the “culture of prosperity deadens us.” The commentator then observes, “Yet it is those evil capitalist Catholics who pay for the churches, fund the hospitals, the schools, the soup kitchens and everything else that allows the church to actually help the poor.” Indeed, the writer has a point. more
Pope Francis raised hope in some quarters, and eyebrows in other quarters, when he took the world’s monetary practices to task in his first public exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” The Pontiff had challenging words for those responsible for what he termed “an economy of exclusion.” The Holy Father decried “the new idolatry of money” and was certainly harsh on “a financial system which rules rather than serves.” more
The word “perfect” occurs only twice in the Gospel accounts, and both times it is St. Matthew who employs this superlative. In the account of the rich young man given a chance at discipleship, Jesus offers this challenge: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” In this coming Sunday’s Gospel passage from the celebrated Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges his disciples, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” St. Luke for his part does include this last quote from Jesus, but in a slightly modified form. St. Luke recalls Jesus saying, “Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful,” or, as another translation reads, “Be compassionate, as your heavenly Father is compassionate.” Assessing all these quotations together, the reader may easily conclude that perfection consists in sensitivity toward the poor. Here the poor indicates not only the financially and materially impoverished, but also the emotionally and socially deprived. more
Just about every culture on the face of the earth accepts some sort of Divinity. Christians happily acknowledge the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the one true God, creator, redeemer and sanctifier. The Jewish community joins the Christian community in embracing the one, eternal God, revealed initially to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Islamic world recognizes this common Semitic heritage when it worships Allah as the supreme and perfect being. more
This coming Sunday’s three Scripture readings combine the forceful words of the prophet Isaiah, the insightful phrases of the apostle Paul and the homely expressions of the Master Himself to communicate broadly the richness of the Gospel message. more
Forty-eight years ago, within weeks of my ordination to the priesthood, I offered a Sunday Mass in my home parish of St. Charles Borromeo in Woonsocket. After Mass, a young mother presented herself to me and asked to be “churched.” This was the only request for churching in my half-century of priestly ministry. more
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