Sunday, November 27, 2022

Year A First Sunday of Advent

Readings: Isa 2:1-5; Ps 122:1-9; Rom 13:11-14; Matt 24:37-34

What matters to you? I mean, what really matters? Answering this question honestly is different from giving what you think is the “right” answer at Church. Probably the least honest way to answer this question is with words.

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein made a lot of the distinction between saying and showing. Showing is almost always more convincing than saying because it is more straightforward than mere words. In his earliest work, Wittgenstein went as far as to insist: “What can be shown cannot be said.”1

This same distinction is made in the New Testament. “Indeed someone may say,” we read in the Letter of Saint James, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works,” the passage continues, “and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.”2

Therefore, you demonstrate what matters to you far more clearly and honestly by how you spend time and your resources than anything you say.

Maybe instead of asking what matters, as Christians we should ask “Who matters?” Isn’t “mattering” a matter of love or lack of it? In the sacarment of penance, when saying the Act of Contrition, which comes between the confession of our sins and receiving absolution, don’t we acknowledge this when we say to God- “I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things?”

What is sin except a lack of love for God and/or neighbor? This is true for both sins of commission (the things we do wrong, despite knowing they’re wrong) and sins of omission (the good things we should’ve and could’ve done but didn’t).

Our readings for this First Sunday of Advent pick up where our readings for last week’s Solemnity of Christ the King left off. At the beginning of this Year of Grace, we are called to repent. Acknowledging one’s sins and expressing sorrow for them is only the beginning of repentance.

True repentance means changing your mind and your heart, reorienting your life, walking in a different direction, taking up the cross and following Jesus Christ, changing what needs to be changed, with God’s help. To repent means to live in a new way. The way of God’s kingdom.

The advent of Advent also lets us know that time is of the essence. Both Jesus and Paul in our readings point this out: repent before time runs out. No one knows what the future holds. Not only does nobody know when Christ will “return to judge the living and dead,” nobody knows the hour of her/his own death.

Now is “the hour now for you to awake from sleep,” Paul insists in our reading from his Letter to the Romans.3 "For our salvation," the apostle continues, "is nearer now than when we first believed.”4

These remain timely words nearly two thousand years later. Again, you don’t and you can’t know what the future holds. For those who wait in joyful hope for the return of Jesus Christ, it’s always the end of the world until the end of the world.

This is not as dire as it might sound. In fact, it is hopeful. It is hopeful because we believe that Christ has conquered death. Because he’s conquered death, by virtue of our baptism, so have we.

After the pattern of Jesus, to live forever, you must first die. Elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says that those who lose their life for his sake will find it.5 In this same passage, the Lord goes on to ask, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”6 He then points to when he “will come with his angels in his Father’s glory," when "he will repay everyone according to his conduct.”7

I remember listening to a radio program years ago. A segment of the program was an interview with a journalist who, at the end of his career, went back and re-interviewed the happiest people he had encountered in his work. In sharing a few bits of advice he received about living a happy life from these people, he recalled an elderly German man. This man shared that one key to his own happiness was spending a few minutes, no more, each day thinking about his own death.

This is an ancient Stoic practice adopted by Christians in the early Church. This practice is known as Memento mori. Memento mori is Latin for “remember death.” Or, if that doesn’t work, always bear in mind: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

While a relatively short liturgical season, Advent has two distinct movements. On the Third Sunday, it pivots from anticipating Christ’s glorious return to looking forward to our celebration of his Nativity.

My dear friends, Advent is a beautiful season. Its spiritual purpose is to prepare us for our celebration of the Lord’s Nativity at Christmas. You keep Christ in Christmas by observing Advent. Christmas is its own season, which doesn’t begin until sundown on Christmas Eve and lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which, this year, we will observe on Monday, 9 January.

So, in a mad dash towards whatever it is Christmas has become, don't neglect Advent. Use this season as a time to ponder the question What/Who really matters? And then to ask yourself: What do I need to change?

1 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 4.1212.
2 James 2:18.
3 Romans 13:11.
4 Romans 13:11.
5 Matthew 16:25.
6 Matthew 16:26.
7 Matthew 16:27.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

From the cross, God gathers his people


In Eucharistic Prayer III, we pray
You are indeed Holy, O Lord,
and all you have created
rightly gives you praise,
for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
by the power and working of the Holy Spirit,
you give life to all things and make them holy,
and you never cease to gather a people to yourself,... (emboldening and italicizing mine) (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer III, sec. 108)
Indeed, God never ceases to gather a people to himself. In and through Christ, God gathers his people from throughout the world, from every nation, race, tongue, from all walks of life, making the least the greatest, the last the first, etc.

At the beginning of Saint Matthew's Gospel, the angel, in his announcement of the Lord's birth to Joseph, also announced that the child would be named "Jesus because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Indeed, "Jesus" or Yeshua has a range of meanings from "the Lord our help," to "the Lord saves," to "the Lord is salvation."

It is interesting that in our Gospel reading for the Solemnity of Christ the King for this third year of the Sunday lectionary, which has Saint Luke's Gospel as its focus, the "good thief," whom tradition names Saint Dismas, calls the Lord by his given name when he says- "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).

"Is it accidental," asks the late New Testament scholar Raymond Brown in a footnote, "that this wrongdoer is the only one in this or any Gospel to call Jesus simply, 'Jesus' without an additional modifier?" (An Introduction to the New Testament, pg 260) For my part, I take this as a rhetorical question, even if it wasn't the intention of the inspired author.

What makes someone a member of the people God gathers to himself through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit? Well, Dismas establishes the pattern, does he not? He acknowledges his own sins and failings, going so far as to accept his capital punishment as just and fitting. Further, he not only sees Jesus' innocence but recognizes Jesus as his Savior. It is this that makes Dismas a member of God's people and this that makes Dismas a saint. According to Luke's narrative, we can be quite certain that, unlike Jesus, Dismas is not an innocent man, wrongly condemned.

In his play Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett has Vladimir ask Estragon " is it that of the four Evangelists only one speaks of a thief being saved" (Act 1 ). This is an important observation- Beckett did not write this as an interrogative, but a statement.

Getting back to the issue of how to read the Gospels (Beckett sticks with a standard and, sadly, popular way of reading them), Vladimir continues: "One out of four. Of the other three, two don't mention any thieves at all and the third says that both of them abused him." Then, without pause, he muses "Then the two of them must have been damned." At this point, Estragon chimes in with "And why not?" To which Vladimir replies: "But one of the four says that one of the two was saved."

Estragon wants to pass this off as a simple disagreement. But Vladimir, taking all the Evangelists to be eyewitnesses (Luke wasn't, he tell us so- see Luke 1:1-4), persists in asserting only one of the Evangelists says the good thief was saved. Why is it, then, that we should "believe him rather than the others?" This fascinating dialogue continues for quite some time.

I suppose the reason I believe Luke is that he seems to capture God's nature in this instance better than the others. As Beckett intimates, the Passion according to Matthew and John features no thieves or revolutionaries. Mark's account actually does not have the two being crucified alongside Jesus abusing him (see Mark 15:22-32).

It seems obvious that the point is you and I are in an existential situation similar to the one in which the thieves find themselves. As Raymond Brown points out, "The unique scene with the [good thief] in [Luke] 23:40-43 is a masterpiece of Lucan theology" (An Introduction to the New Testament, pg 260). Jesus' mercy "goes far beyond what the criminal asks" (Ibid). After all, Brown observes, "he becomes the first to be taken into Paradise!" (Ibid)

Dismas: a charter member of God's people, a true subject of Christ the King. The king whose throne is the cross and who you can address using his first name.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Apocalytic eschatology


According to the narrative set forth in Luke's Gospel, Jesus and his followers have arrived in Jerusalem. This is the part where Jesus really begins to stir up trouble. In our Gospel reading for this Sunday, he predicts the destruction of the Temple.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Temple for ancient Judaism. The first Temple had already been destroyed. The Second Temple, the Temple that stood in Jerusalem in the first century, replaced it. The Second Temple, at this point in Luke's internal chronology, had only been completed a few years earlier. It was still new!

Jesus's teaching in this pericope is apocalyptic. "Apocalypse" does not mean divinely unleashed catastrophe, chaos, and destruction. It means to unveil. To unveil is to reveal.

No doubt taken somewhat aback by this dire prediction (keep in mind we're working here with Luke's text in a post-critical way- Luke was probably not composed until after the Temple's destruction), some of his audience asks when this going to happen and if there will be any detectable signs that indicate when this will happen.

What Jesus goes on to describe are things that are the stuff of human history. Keeping in mind that the same inspired author wrote both Luke and Acts, Jesus does seem to predict the persecution of the early Church, which takes place before the Roman destruction of the Temple, which occurred in AD 70. As with the rest of what the Lord predicts, his prediction of persecution can be extended over time.

In short, as is suggested in our reading from 2 Thessalonians, the key is perseverance in living the Gospel, following the way of Jesus, and walking the way of the Cross, not living some overheated state imminently expecting the end of the world.

In our culture, which is largely shaped, at least religiously, by a non-doctrinal, non-confessional form of biblicist Protestantism, which many Catholics have appropriated, endtime-mania seems to always be in season. The signs to which Jesus points are deliberately vague. In other words, there is no way of telling when these things will happen. This is just the point as it pertains to how a Christian lives. Today is always the time of tribulation.

Earlier, during the travel narrative, Jesus exhorted his followers to live in what New Testament scholar Raymond Brown refers to as "eschatological vigilance" (see Luke 12:35-48; An Introduction to the New Testament, 254). What is eschatological vigilance? It is an awareness that God can bring his purposes to fulfillment at any time and will do so in his own time. No one is privy to God's timetable.

Christians today, two thousand years later, are to live in eschatological vigilance. This is not "Look busy, Jesus is coming!" Rather, it is living your life according to Jesus' teachings come what may, even when you experience backlash, resistance, even persecution, or, worse yet, discouragement. Claims of persecution, at least the contemporary United States, are grossly overexaggerated. Of course, there are many Christians throughout the world who face genuine persecution.

What Jesus says about not planning what you will say before hand is realized in the Acts by the witness of Peter, Stephen, and, later. Paul. Clearly, the life that is "secured" is eternal life, not mortal life.

Living in eschatological vigilance is already an apocalypse, an unveiling, a revelation. Living this way, which is not a paranoid, alarmist, pessimistic way, but a hopeful, even joyful, way that makes God's kingdom a present reality, is the revelation. So far from supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, apocalyptic eschatology is adhering to Jesus' teachings.

Two examples of what this might look like: Saint Francis of Assisi was tending the community garden one day with another friar. This friar asked Francis (who was most likely a deacon), something like- "If the Lord were to return right now, what would you do?" Francis is said to have responded: "I would keep tending the garden." In a similar vein, Martin Luther said, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

While the second isn't as "eschatological" as the first, it is highly relevant to the matter under consideration. Luther was noting that, at least for us, the future is uncertain. So, we should practice what spiritual teacher John Eldredge calls "benevolent detachment," what Saint Ignatius of Loyola dubbed indiferencia. What is that, you might ask? It is to put everything into God's hands and live the calling to which you are called without worrying about the future.

Earlier in the same chapter of Luke in which Jesus exhorts his followers to eschatological vigiliance, he teaches- "do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear." He continues:
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (see Luke 12:22-34)
Whether you accept it or not, this is the essence of the freedom Christ offers. By living in the freedom of the children of God we reveal what is coming.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Year II Thirty-second Monday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Titus 1:1-9; Ps 24:1b-6; Luke 17:1-6

What is faith? As simple as it is to ask this question, the nature and essence of faith remains a perennial subject of deep theological reflection. As in most instances, the Greek word translated into English as “faith” in our readings, both taken from our uniquely Christian scriptures, the New Testament, is pistis.1

In response to Jesus’ teaching on the necessity of forgiveness, recognizing what a difficult teaching it is, the Apostles plead: “Increase our faith.”2 In true form, Jesus tells them that if they have even a little faith, faith the size of mustard seed, which is a very small seed, they could, by their words, uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea.

It would seem, by use of hyperbole (hyperbole= exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally), Jesus implies that if the power of faith can move a mulberry tree in such a dramatic way, then by this same power you can forgive someone who wrongs you seven times in one day. Persinally, I think the latter is the greater miracle. Okay, but what has that to do with faith? Well, the short answer is: Everything!

In antiquity, as a singular term, pistis referred to a guarantee, something like a warranty. Hence, in Christian usage, pistis, or faith, becomes God’s warranty, guarantee, or, more accurately, God’s provision. Believing that God will provide is an act of trust. This why, as Christians, we say that hope is the flower of faith. Keep in mind, hope is not optimism. Hope kicks in as optimism fades out.

What we often worry about when it comes to forgiveness is justice. This is not a trivial or silly concern. By forgiving, we accept the guarantee of God’s justice, opening ourselves to receive divine provision. This is why elsewhere, Saint Paul, invoking the law, exhorts:
Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good 3
A mustard seed

Jesus never simply teaches. He doesn’t simply “put his money where his mouth is” or just “walk the walk.” Rather, just as he mysteriously becomes the bread and wine, what he teaches, he is. This is why, in the midst of the humiliation and torture that was His passion, he asked the Father to forgive those who were humiliating and torturing him.4

By hearing his words and partaking of his body and blood we should be transformed so that we, too, become what Jesus teaches.

Ancient Greeks understood pistis to result from a certain kind of persuasive discourse. Like Jesus’ teaching in response to the plea by the Apostles, this discourse is elliptical (i.e., not direct, like his use of hyperbole with regard to the mulberry tree). For the Greeks, pistis is the affect and effect of such a discourse. Hence, it is not a logical demonstration. The affect and effect of Jesus’ teaching in this pericope is the hearer feeling the need to be forgiving and then, when wronged, forgiving.

Psychologically, forgiveness is defined “as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”5

Now, forgiveness is a serious matter. One’s ability and even one’s willingness to forgive is often in proportion to the grievousness of the wrong endured. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Forgiving does not necessarily mean reconciling. In fact, sometimes reconciliation isn’t possible and at times inadvisable.

Forgiveness means willing to forgive even the unforgiveable. This where trusting in divine justice becomes so vitally important. As C.S. Lewis noted: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”6 “Only, I think, by remembering where we stand,” Lewis continues, “by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms.”7

Rather than logic, what Jesus employs is theo-logic, which, given the pull of the flesh, is usually quite counterintuitive. This teaching takes aim at our human default setting: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It is Tevye, the lead character in Fiddler on the Roof, who notes that the result of this is “the whole world will be blind and toothless.” In the Kingdom of God, it is not so.

1 Nestle 1904 Greek New Testament: Titus 1:1; Luke 17:6- .
2 Luke 17:5.
3 Romans 12:19-21; Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 32:35.41.
4 Luke 23:34.
5 Greater Good Magazine. “What Is Forgiveness?”
6 C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. 136.
7 Ibid.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Who are you? Are you ill or just alive?

Based on what I see on social media, this article by therapist Hannah Baer, "Who decides if you’re mentally ill? Self-diagnosis is undermining therapy," seeks to start an important conversation. While arguing for the need for trained, educated, and experienced mental health professionals, she does not merely assert the authority of her profession.

Life is often hard. It's impossible to be what most people take to be "happy" all the time. What is meant by "happy" is feeling good, fulfilled, and satisfied, grateful, excited, cared for, etc. If you can't be happy in all or most of these ways, well trick-fuck yourself into being so by pithy memes. Things happen to us all day pretty much every day. Of necessity, we respond, react, absorb, roll with the punches (of so many metaphors!).

We have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, and moreover, a lot of mundane in-between. Negotiating the latter seems to be what many find so difficult. On the human front, there is a lot of loss. Virtual interaction is not the same as live interaction in many aspects. I'll park that observation there.

I grew up in a different time. A time during which there was not so much stimulus available. We need to recover the fruitfulness of boredom, which, at least since Heidegger, is an important existential category. Boredom is fruitful. One thing I've reflected on a lot over the past 2-3 years on just how much time I spent as a child and adolescent alone with "nothing" to do. Nothing, it has been noted, is not an empty category. On this view, doing nothing is certainly a possibility. I argue that it is necessary for our humanity, our identity, our self-understanding, and our grasp of "the world."

It seems that many people are looking for someone to either tell them who they are or to affirm different identities as they are tried on in a quest for the oh-so-elusive personal authenticity. "Look, I am this. I really am this!" While there is genuine authenticity, the defining characteristic of which is wonder and humility in the face of reality, there is no authentic self waiting to be discovered.

As a Christian, I have beliefs about what's wrong with us. Recognition that something is wrong with us, that the world is broken, is just part of the human condition, whether or not you have transcendent beliefs. Even from the perspective of the philosophy of religion, any religion that doesn't account for this existential human condition isn't likely to find many adherents.

Here is the issue Baer thoughtfully addresses:
Many young people I work with try to understand themselves (and often others) through the lens of mental illness. Typically they are focused on one diagnosis, but some, like Abby, are open to having several, many, or any. My co-workers notice it too. One colleague recently brought a question to our clinic’s staff meeting: “Has anyone else noticed a large number of students lately claiming to be on the autism spectrum, despite seeming to be… clearly not autistic based on clinical criteria?” Heads nodded. Why is it that so many young people are concerned that they are sick? And what is a mental health professional to do, in a culture where patients come in having already staked out their symptoms?
If autism is the one diagnosis for one's self (this is understandable because alienation is worse now than it's ever been, leaving many people ill-equipped to understand, let alone "deal with" life's exigencies), the one diagnosis for others seems to be narcissism. After all, if you're not deeply concerned about me, you must be pathologically self-absorbed! There is a lot more to be said about the truth and falsity of personal identity. I will limit myself to observing that any "true" personal identity summons a certain about resiliency. Our participation in reality, it seems to me, requires no little stubbornness.

Anyway, I thought the beginning of November would be a good time to revive our Friday traditio. After all, blogger is my "true" identity, c'est ne pas? "Trouble Is" by Jars of Clay, off their still notable album Who We Are Instead, seems a fitting song:

Thursday, November 3, 2022

All Souls

Readings: Wis 3:1-9; Ps 23:1-6; Rom 6:3-9; John 6:37-40

“Are you unaware,” Saint Paul asks the Christians of ancient Rome, that you were baptized into Christ’s death?1 Death is a fact of life. But Christ has overcome death. In baptism we die, are buried, and rise with Christ to new life, to life everlasting. This is why Christians shouldn’t fear death. It is, therefore, fitting that our Paschal Candle is lit tonight.

Just as baptism is the fundamental sacrament, belief in Christ’s death and resurrection is the basis, the cornerstone of Christian faith. But a Christian does not believe that Christ’s rising from the dead is a one-off event. S/he believes that by dying, being buried, and rising with Christ through the waters of baptism s/he, too, has died and risen.

Resurrection and redemption are the themes of All Souls Day. Just as All Saints is a day to celebrate all saints, particularly those holy women and men who even now enjoy God’s presence but who are not canonized, on All Souls we commemorate all the faithful departed, perhaps especially those who have no one to remember them. This is why we have our memorial book at the foot of the chancel and we read the names before Mass. Today is Catholic Memorial Day.

Commemoration is different from mourning. We don’t gather this evening to mourn. We gather to celebrate. We don’t really gather to celebrate our beloved dead, but to remember them. We gather to celebrate the hope we have because Jesus Christ conquered death, even if this does not now seem to be the case.

Christ our hope enables us to pray for those who have died. Very often and understandably we auto-canonize the dead, at least publicly, making them saints a bit prematurely, or, in recent years, with a persistent form of gnosticism in the ascendent, thinking they become some kind of disembodied astral being or angels. We are not angels because we are not disembodied. We are embodied and will be so throughout eternity. After all, we believe in the Son’s incarnation and in bodily resurrection.

As Catholics, we believe that in most instances our journey back to God continues after death. On this journey, according to Church teaching, most people pass through Purgatory. We make a mistake, however, if we think of Purgatory as a hellish place, a place of torment and horror. In her lovely Treatise on Purgatory, Saint Catherine of Genoa describes the so-called “fire” of Purgatory as an inner fire. For Catherine, this is the fire of human desire, the very desire that make us and that finds its satisfaction in God alone. We are made for God and it is God, who is love, whom we desire. To paraphrase Saint Augustine: our hearts are restless until they rest in God.

Maybe because God, at times, seems far away or even absent, it is easy to believe that other things, even things that are not bad in themselves, or other people are what we truly want and need. This is what we often find so very dissatisfying about life in a transitory world, a world in which even our closest relationships don’t and can't last continuously forever. For example, our marriage vows only bind us until death. For, if we listen to the Lord and not to other, strange voices that contradict revelation: “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage."2 If nothing else, and there is plenty else in a broken world, death disrupts.

You should be similarly suspicious of those who claim to have crystal clear ideas about life after death. As Saint Paul intimated by quoting Isaiah:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him3
What theologian David Tracy observed gets to the heart of the matter:
our beloved dead, whose fates no one really knows, are painfully invisible to us now. Indeed, the dead possess a unique form of invisibility: the dead are presently absent and absently present. When Dante first experiences the underworld and sees so many dead persons he once knew well in life, he exclaims, 'I did not know that death had undone so many
He concludes this thought by writing: "We all know the feeling."4

By Hieronymus Bosch

As a result, our desires need to be re-directed toward the One who truly satisfies. Only then can our other relationships be restored and placed on solid footing. This purgation, according to Saint Catherine, is not torment. In her Treatise, she puts it this way:
I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise; and day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed5
Commemoration of the dead is an act of love. Love is what gathers us tonight around this altar: the love of God given us in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and, flowing from that, our love for those who have died. So, while we aren’t here to mourn, we are here to once again commend the souls of the faithful departed to the mercy of God whose name is Mercy.

Commendation has three main meanings: to formally praise someone, to present as suitable for acceptance (recommend), and to entrust. Indeed, we praise the dead for the good they did and for the love they gave. It is Christ who presents them and who will present us to the Father as suitable for acceptance. It is us who entrust them to God, which is what we're here to do on the solemn day.

By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ reconciles us with the Father. We pray in the second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation, asking the Father to graciously “endow us with [Christ’s] very Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit, this prayer continues, “who takes away everything that estranges us from one another.”6 What estranges more for each other than death? By participating in Mass, you are united with the entire Body of Christ: on earth, in heaven, and in Purgatory. Don’t forget, according to the Church, Purgatory is populated by people who are ultimately bound for glory.

We can extend this communion beyond our celebration tonight by praying for the dead. Even now, consider obtaining indulgences for them to help them on their way. By obtaining these on their behalf, you are like the Good Samaritan, who helps the man beaten, robbed, and left for dead to be healed and to complete his journey. These practices and beliefs are not outmoded or outdated.

Tonight, we express our faith in Jesus Christ, who teaches that it is the will of the Father that everyone who believes in him shall have eternal life and be raised on the last day.7 The Eucharist, it has been noted, is the medicine of immortality. It is this faith that generates hope and enables us to journey through the valley of death, fearing no evil.8 As Saint Paul asks further on in his Letter to the Romans:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?9

1 Romans 6:3.
2 Matthew 22:30.
3 1 Corithians 2:9.
4 David Tracy, Fragments: The Existential Situation of Our Time, Collected Essays, Vol 1., 36.
5 Saint Catherine of Genoa. Treatise on Purgatory, Chapter II.
6 Roman Missal. Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II, sec.
7 John 6:40.
8 Psalm 23:4.
9 Romans 8:31-32.

Koinonia: One God, three persons

The end of our second reading is from the conclusion of Saint Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. Koinonia is the Greek word trans...