Sunday, June 18, 2023

While We Were Yet Enemies

I covered Masses this weekend in Exeter and Milligan, Nebraska (pop. 514 and 241 respectively) and it was fun. But all the same, I made them take out their missals and follow along on page 202 for the 2nd Reading because, well, I'm a one-trick pony. 

Jesus commands us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Well, St. Paul thinks it's pretty lucky for us that God practices what he preaches. In Romans 5 today, Paul reflects that when we were still enemies of God, it was at that time that Christ died for us. 

Enemies. Ungodly. Sinners deserving of wrath. Thus does Paul describe us all. And to drive the point home he does grudgingly admit that maybe, just maybe, one might rake together enough courage to die for a really good man. Here I think Paul is referencing a well-known heroic story from the Greco-Roman world when he grants them this possibility. But all of that was just so Paul would be able to say, "And we weren't anything even close to that level of good people, or to being that kind of good friend." If I'm right about Paul thinking of that heroic story at this moment, then it's all the more fitting that Jesus followed up his call to love our enemies by noting that if you only love your friends, what's impressive about that? even the pagan Gentiles love their people that much.

Paul can be deep, or clever, or poetic, or culturally savvy. But in this handful of verses, he is all four.  

Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Corpus Christi 5-Minute Homily Deal

You may have heard about this multi-year Eucharistic Revival that the U.S. Bishops have called for. You may be aware that parishes have been asked to raise the bar on their Sunday worship and to offer more special, Eucharistic moments—the unique, the devotional, the communal, the less frequent now but formerly universal kind. An event that ticks all those boxes and is specially connected to today's feast is the parish Corpus Christi procession, an almost-ubiquitous annual ceremony of bygone summers with less-busy weekends. 

Here in Beatrice, we desired to have a procession at each of the weekend Masses, even if all but one of them would be just by the ministers through the aisles of the church. But that idea can daunt your Mass-goers if they sense that Mass is about to lengthen by 25%. So, Father Kosch and I discussed things and last Sunday he presented the parish with a "grand bargain": We would get the processions built into all Masses this weekend and in exchange the pew-sitters (and their tail bones) would get a guaranteed five minute sermon. And as the name of this blog suggests, I can put about eight minutes of words in five minutes of verbal vortex. If you're looking for in-depth reflections, click here for a four day series on the Eucharist I did in Indiana during Lent. If you're looking to listen to something while you wait in the drive through lane, click the play button below. 

(Full transparency: the actual record times were 5:20, 5:05, and 5:13. 🤭 Oops.)