Christianity grew out of Judaism. It didn’t replace it but, largely unknown to ourselves, we inherited much of Judaism’s biblical insights and traditions. The idea of the Sabbath is a case in point that I find to be enriching.
We readily fall victim to society’s values. People today want success more than anything. Popular religion often focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know much, if anything at all, about the spiritual fruits of failure. Failure and defeat, material or spiritual, are things we don’t dwell on.
Spring has sprung in Ireland. According to the old Celtic calendar, Irish Spring starts each year on February 1st. Indeed, the days have lengthened by almost two hours since the winter equinox almost two months ago. Flowers are budding and seasonal birds have begun to appear. Time to get out and about and celebrate brighter days and new vitality.
Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39).
In the gospel reading for the feast of St. John of the Cross, Jesus says, “The glory you have given me I have given them” – Jn 17:22. Throughout sacred scripture the glory of God is an image used to express God’s very self in terms of abundance, prodigality, extravagance and unlimited generosity.
A Sense of God
Someone was reading from Gerard Manley Hopkins on the car radio. I was struck by the poet’s description of the contrasting attributes of God’s beauty as I listened to the words “swift, slow; sweet, sour, adazzle, dim” (Pied Beauty).
“Is there a hereafter?” is a common or garden question. But there is no common or garden answer to it. Reason and science have nothing to offer about life after death, and tell us that there is no evidence for it one way or the other.
Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the Tax-collector at prayer is offered as a litmus test to the honesty of prayer. The Pharisee used twenty-nine words to pray, while the taxman used only six. The Pharisee’s prayer was long, complex and self-centered; The taxman’s was short, honest and God-centered.
Job, blameless and upright and fearing God, cursed the day he was born, the day they said, “It’s a boy!” Our culture tells us that suffering is useless and has nothing whatever going for it. Not so, says our Christian tradition, not so. Christianity sees beyond, hopes beyond and believes beyond that which is immediately experienced here and now.
John and Mary took their six-month old daughter to church for baptism. Back in the house at the reception John was over the moon with excitement about his first-born, Holly, and told me he wanted to grow up “before it is too late.”