It’s funny where you can learn a lesson and catch a glimpse of the divine. Recently, in a grocery store, I witnessed this incident:

A young girl, probably around 16 years of age, along with two other girls her own age, came into the store. She picked up a grocery basket and began to walk down the aisle, not knowing that a second basket was stuck onto the one she was carrying. At a point the inevitable happened, the basket stuck to hers released

We are always our brother’s keeper

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 25 (Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31)

The absence of love is indifference, and it is indifference that will bring our world low if we are not more heedful of divine law. 

Ups, downs and happy death

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In the Roman Catholic culture within which I grew up, we were taught to pray for a happy death. For many Catholics at the time, this was a standard petition within their daily prayer: “I pray for a happy death.”

Today’s actions have eternal consequences

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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 18 (Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13)

Exploitation, injustice and corruption are as familiar as the sunrise and sunset. There are many similarities between eighth century B.C. Israel — the time of the prophet Amos — and our own world. Amos pulled no punches in his public utterances against the establishment. Looming over them was the threat of the violent and rapacious Assyrian Empire. Amos sought to call Israel back to the path of justice and righteousness — in other words, the way of God — before it was too late. Interestingly, he did not touch on what we might call “religious” practices, such as ritual, liturgy and sacrifice. Instead, he described familiar patterns of human behaviour: dishonest business dealings, as well as brutal and greedy tactics that crushed people and enslaved the poor.

Trust in God requires a dose of fear

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Unless you are already a full saint or a mystic, you will always live in some fear of death and the afterlife. That’s simply part of being human. But we can, and must, move beyond our fear of God.

God in His mercy writes no one off

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24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Sept. 11 (Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32)

Fickleness and ingratitude are unfortunate human characteristics that have always been with us. God had done so much for the Israelites. He had liberated them from Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, as well as providing them with food and water in the hostile wilderness. But they asked the age-old question: what have you done for me lately?

Misunderstood teachings on God’s fury

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There’s a haunting text in the Book of Revelations where poetic image, for all its beauty, can be dangerously misleading. The author there writes: “So the angel swung his sickle over the Earth and cut the Earth’s vintage. He threw it into the great winepress of God’s fury.”

Bridging power and vulnerability

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Walking home from the grocery store, I heard a wild cry on the street behind me. A young man had ripped open his car door, slammed it again with a thundering metallic crash, then simply stood and roared like a lion. Seeing that no one was in danger, I walked on. Another roar came, with a richly voiced four-letter epithet, and another crash-slammed door. The counterpoint of raw emotion continued for a while — door-slamming, wordless roaring, life-searing oaths. Even at a distance, I felt it. Whatever that young man was expelling into the atmosphere, something in me resonated.

God’s wisdom will prevail

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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 4 (Wisdom 9:13-18b; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33)

Be comfortable in your own skin

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Aug. 28 (Sirach 3:17-20, 28-29; Psalm 68; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14)

The virtue of humility gets a lot of bad press. It is often seen as an invitation to be treated as a doormat or as a lack of self-esteem. Humility can also be used to oppress people by “keeping them in their place.”

We have created our own fear of hell

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Hell is never a nasty surprise waiting for a basically happy person. Hell can only be the full-flowering of a pride and selfishness that have, through a long time, twisted a heart so thoroughly that it considers happiness as unhappiness and has an arrogant disdain for happy people. If you are essentially warm of heart this side of eternity, you need not fear a nasty surprise awaits you on the other side because somewhere along the line, you missed the boat and your life went terribly wrong.