A Mighty Shrub

A Homily for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts: Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:6-17; St. Mark 4:26-34


Grace to you and peace to you from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who has sown the seeds of the Kingdom. Amen.

Is it any wonder that Scripture makes such frequent reference to trees? They are signs of abundance and long life, and for good reason. Even a humble acacia tree of fifteen feet would soar above its desert surroundings and be the tallest object in a small Israelite town, a landmark that lasts for decades. A sycamore, that preferred perch for Zacchaeus, could easily grow up to sixty feet tall. The ancient economy depended on trees which provided timber for building, fuel for burning, and fruit for eating. Precious commodities like frankincense and myrrh come from trees.  These majestic plants were so important to life across the entire ancient world that they took on sacred characteristics in societies from Scandinavia to India.

But in the ancient Near East, no tree loomed quite as large as the mighty cedars of Mount Lebanon. Continue reading “A Mighty Shrub”

A House United

A Homily for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

Texts: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; St. Mark 3:20-35


Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who unites us into one holy family. Amen.

“Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod.”

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Diet of Worms

These are the opening words of the papal bull, Exsurge Domine (the Latin phrase that leads off the document) signed by Pope Leo X threatening to excommunicate Martin Luther in the year 1520. When Luther refused to recant, he was formally excommunicated a year later at the Diet of Worms. Continue reading “A House United”

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.

Trinity and Liberation

A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity

Texts: Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:12-17; St. John 3:1-17


Grace to you and Peace in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

To what can we compare the Most Blessed Trinity?

God’s existence as three persons united into one being is perhaps the most confusing belief in the Christian faith. The Church spent its first four centuries arguing about it, trying to figure out which understanding is the most faithful, and many of those ancient debates have re-occurred throughout the ages. Entire libraries worth of text have been published just to explain this one doctrine, but understanding remains elusive. When we try to explain our belief in the Trinity to our friends, to our children, to ourselves, we reach for analogies. “The Trinity is sort of like…uh…hm…an egg, a clover, a flame, a human, a hand,” we say, before trying to draw out similarities between an eternal God and something infinitesimally small. Continue reading “Trinity and Liberation”