Sheep with a Shepherd

A Homily for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Mark 6:30-34


goodshepherd dura europos.jpg
Christ the Good Shepherd, Dura-Europos

Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Good Shepherd. Amen.

When we last saw the twelve apostles, they had been sent out two by two on their second mission trip. After a rough trip to Jesus’ hometown, he sent them out to do exactly what he had not been able to do among his own kin. And immediately after they went out, we heard about John the Baptist’s violent end at Herod’s hand. The apostles’ mission was perilous and by no means a guaranteed success. They were sent out with no food, no money, no change of clothes: only each other and a (difficult) message. Failure was a very real option.

Today, we join them on their return. By all accounts and despite all odds, things went well. Verse 13, which we read two weeks ago, tells us that the Twelve “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” And verse 30, at the outset of today’s Gospel, depicts their reunion with the Lord: they “gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.”

Imagine their excitement; the twelve just worked wonders! They’ve glimpsed the Kingdom of God erupting into this world! They’ve received a foretaste of the Feast to come! Continue reading “Sheep with a Shepherd”

Francis On Corpus Christi: “Live Eucharistically”

This past Sunday was the Feast of Corpus Christi, not commonly observed outside the Roman Rite (owing to debates on how to understand “real presence” in the Sacrament), but one on which Pope Francis offers profound this profound reflection on the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist:

As he did with his disciples, so too today Jesus asks us, today, to prepare. Like the disciples, let us ask him: “Lord, where do you want us to go to prepare?” Where: Jesus does not prefer exclusive, selective places. He looks for places untouched by love, untouched by hope. Those uncomfortable places are where he wants to go and he asks us to prepare his way. How many persons lack dignified housing or food to eat! All of us know people who are lonely, troubled and in need: they are abandoned tabernacles. We, who receive from Jesus our own room and board, are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus became bread broken for our sake; in turn, he asks us to give ourselves to others, to live no longer for ourselves but for one another. In this way, we live “eucharistically”, pouring out upon the world the love we draw from the Lord’s flesh. The Eucharist is translated into life when we pass beyond ourselves to those all around us.

Read the full homily and some background on this year’s procession at Whispers in the Loggia.

Update: For more on the Feast of Corpus Christi and the practice of Eucharistic Adoration in the Lutheran Rite, consult Fr. Frank Senn’s writings here and here. And a special thanks to the Rev. Robb Harrell for reminding me of Fr. Senn’s work on the matter.

A Divine Protest

A Homily for Palm Sunday

Text: St. Mark 11:1-11


Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the triumphant king. Amen.

Can you feel the tension in the air?

You can cut it with the knife.

The world feels like it’s on the very verge of coming undone.

In the shadow of Rome, a divisive preacher arrives riding on the foal of a donkey, echoing the ascension of King Solomon, the Son of David. It was Passover, the city had swollen to many times its usual population, and was full of pilgrims eager for the liberation foreshadowed in the exodus.

For the disciples, this was it. Isaiah had said that the Messiah would free the oppressed, right? And how much more oppressed could you possibly get than Judea under the Roman Empire? The confrontation between the world and God must be at hand. Finally, the Roman oppressors would be overthrown. This was what all of history had been building towards. Continue reading “A Divine Protest”

Jesus Came to…Heal

A Homily for the First Wednesday in Lent

Text: St. Mark 1:29-45*


Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who brings Good News and healing. Amen.

As we move towards Jerusalem throughout Lent, the lectionary is taking us through Christ’s ministry, moving towards Holy Week, the Passion, and our Lord’s glorious Resurrection.

There is a movement in certain circle that reduces Christ’s work in this world to the Crucifixion, as if to say that God the Son became incarnate and lived for thirty-some years just to die. In this view, everything else – even the Resurrection – play second fiddle to the events at Golgotha, and God’s redemptive work is limited to Good Friday. The Gospel is reduced to the Cross. Continue reading “Jesus Came to…Heal”

Salvation Through the Waters

A Homily for the First Sunday in Lent

Texts: Genesis 9:8-17, 1 Peter 3:18-22, St. Mark 1:9-15


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who saves us in the waters of the deep. Amen.

Who has been to the Grand Canyon?

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Grand Canyon, 2005

How about Niagara Falls?

Or maybe closer to home, who’s visited Tallullah Gorge?

What do these places have in common? They are geological wonders that show the awesome power of water. The Grand Canyon is, at its max, 18 miles wide, up to a mile deep, and over 200 miles long, all carved out by the Colorado River over the course millions of years – and still growing wider and deeper to this very day as the Colorado continues to eat away at solid rock.

Water is such a common thing we don’t think much about it. Continue reading “Salvation Through the Waters”