Archive for January, 2009

Mark 1:14-20

January 26, 2009

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Picture yourself as Simon or Andrew, or James or John.  You wouldn’t be fishing, but you would be in the midst of your own livelihood, whatever it is, and in the midst of your on-going relations with family and friends.  In short, you had a life.  Suppose you were not already a follower of Jesus, but one day he stopped by your desk and said, “Follow me.”  Why would you do it?  This morning I want to explore that question, the question of what motivates us to become disciples.  Behind that lies another question: have I given a wholehearted yes? (more…)


Mark 1:4-11

January 12, 2009

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Perhaps some of you, when you were children, read a book by Charles Kingsley called The Water Babies. It was published in 1863 and became a staple of children’s literature into the 1920’s. I must have inherited my mother’s copy. In any case, the color plates drew me into another world, as did the story. Briefly, the story is this. Tom, the little boy protagonist, lives the harsh life of a London chimney sweep. One day he falls out of a chimney into one of the rooms of the house where he is working. Appalled and disgusted at the sight of this filthy little person, the family has him thrown out. Accidentally he falls into a river and drowns. The rest of the book details his adventures as a water baby in a beautiful underwater world with other water babies. I am invoking that image as a way to talk about Baptism; because on the face of it, today’s reading presents a puzzling picture of Baptism. (more…)

Luke 2:41-52

January 4, 2009

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If the Gospel of Luke were written, not in words, but in musical notes, we would call chapters one and two the overture.  Not until chapter three does the Gospel, proper, begin.  In his overture Luke introduces the main themes of Jesus’ story.  Let me give just a few examples.  First, there was no place for Jesus and his parents in the inn.  Luke foreshadows with this detail the kind of life Jesus will live, always on the margins of society – in, but not of, the world.  Here’s another example: Mary wrapped the babe in bands of cloth.  True, mothers did wrap new born infants in bands of cloth, but so also was a corpse wrapped.  The bands of cloth prefigure not only Jesus’ death, but the symbolic death he brings to all of us in the sacrament of baptism.  And a final example: Mary laid Jesus in a manger, that is, an eating trough.  This detail could scarcely be more blatant; it tells us that Jesus was destined to become bread for the world, bread for eternal life. (more…)

John 1:1-18

January 4, 2009

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If I asked you how the Gospel of Mark begins, or the Gospel of Matthew or Luke, I doubt many of you would know.  But if I asked about John’s Gospel, you probably would know.  The Gospel’s first words are these: “In the beginning….”  Why did John choose those particular words?  Because that is how the Hebrew Bible begins in the book of Genesis: “In the beginning….”  John is saying in effect, here is a new Bible; this Bible is going to set the record straight as to how it all began.  Genesis went on this way: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth….”  John said: not so fast!  “In the beginning was the Word….”  In other words, John wanted to make it clear that before any creating could be done there had to be – what he called – the Logos, meaning the Word, or the organizing principle.  He goes on to personify the Word and equate it with life, with light, and with Jesus Christ.  That is an astonishing claim to make about Jesus.  And the question that arises out of this amazing assertion is this: where did John get the authority to make it?  To put it another way: who sez? (more…)