“What should we do?” – Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent

Note: As I was heading out the door last night to church, I was moved almost to tears by the words of a young father, Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie was killed in Friday’s horrible event in Newtown. He began by extending his own family’s condolences to the many families who lost loved ones — including the shooter’s family!

December 15, 2012 / Dignity NoVA

I’ve been thinking and praying this past week about what words I might offer on this, the third Sunday of Advent.  As you know, I sometimes like to begin with a little levity, a little humor… and so thought about coming up with something humorous to say about the unique Liturgical color we have for today and our gathering as a community of LGBT Christians, because there’s no doubt something “gay” could be said in that regard! Some clergy, by the way, go to great lengths to make the point that the color is rose and not pink!

I also thought about pointing out that we have a unique Liturgical color because today, this Third Sunday of Advent, is also known in the Liturgical Calendar as “Gaudete” Sunday … Gaudete being the first word of the opening prayer of the Latin mass:  “Gaudete in Domino semper – Rejoice in the Lord always!” “Iterum dico, gaudete! – I say it again, Rejoice!”

But then … yesterday happened.  I had taken the day off from work on Friday, and I was proud of myself for not sleeping in too late and for going to the gym in the morning.  But then, on the way home, I heard the first coverage of the horrible tragedy that had only just occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.  I heard first on the radio, and then I turned on CNN as soon as I got inside.  I spent much of the day absorbed by the media coverage of that awful tragedy.  I also watched and even participated in various conversations online as people expressed their outrage, their anger, and their thoughts about the issues related to inadequate gun control laws and the insufficiencies of our fragmented mental health system.

And so, as I thought further about the liturgy for this evening, it didn’t seem like the appropriate time to be making light of things or trying to be humorous.  And, it seemed even less appropriate to be speaking about “Rejoicing” when there was clearly no rejoicing, but in fact just the opposite – such incomparable sadness and grief and a whole host of “non-rejoicing” emotions – unfolding in that small New England town, and dare I say, around the country and beyond.

The sudden and tragic deaths of twenty-eight people – most of whom were little children less then ten years old – have caught the world’s attention, as the emerging news of this sad event continues to do so even now.

And so I found myself – appropriately – focusing even more closely on the scriptures. The one line that I kept returning to over and over again is in that opening exchange in the Gospel of Luke where Luke has the crowd put this question to John the Baptist:  “What should we do?”  It’s a question that was spoken by many seeking to find some way to respond to yesterday’s sad event.

In the passage immediately preceding the Gospel passage we just listened to, followers of John the Baptist heard him speak forcefully his message of Repentance. They heard him minimize the significance of their claim to being “children of Abraham” – as if being “children of Abraham” would be enough to bring them to salvation.  But John tells them that God can raise up out of the very desert stones countless “children of Abraham,” so there’s really nothing special in that! They also heard him say that the ax is at the ready – ready to cut down those trees that do not produce good fruit – knowing full well that they were the trees about which he spoke.

And so they ask, “What should we do?”  They come asking not what we should believe, or what we should think.  They come not with a question about what is in the mind or even in the heart … but wanting to know what action they should pursue in order to come to know the salvation that the Baptizer proclaims.

John does not disappoint. And though it is certainly not meant to be exhaustive, he gives a list of things to do, actions to take, in order to be the true “children of Abraham.” These actions are ones that many – even many Christians – would reject out of hand.

  • Got two cloaks? Give one to someone who has none.
  • Got more food than you need? Give it to someone who has none.
  • Even to the tax collectors and soldiers who also ask what to do, he admonishes them not to abuse their power, but to use their authority with restraint, with honesty, and to be content with what wages they earn.

In short, John tells all to be attentive to the needs of the less fortunate, to be content with what we have so that others might not go without; and to use power and authority with restraint, free from abuse, and never use it to meet selfish or self-serving interests.  John’s “to do list” is rooted in a biblical sense of what is right and what is just, understanding that ultimately we can claim nothing as our own, that all is from God. To use language of a later theology, John reminds us that all is grace, and that if we are to live grace-filled lives, we must never forget the graciousness and justice of God.

I’m sure that this time of year – and even all year long – most of us try to support those in need and to be attentive to helping the less fortunate.  But the crowd’s question asked of John is one that we also ask, especially when faced with situations of confusion, of hurt, of anger, of rejection, or even of violence:  What should we do, how should we respond as people of faith and children of God?

Specific answers to that question each of us must find for ourselves. But, regardless of what struggle we face, what tragedy we encounter … we should remember this:  It is a fundamental truth of Christianity that no matter what has happened in the past, what might happen in the future, or even what is happening however horribly in the present, the Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, this very Jesus is in our midst right here and right now. It’s a Truth we proclaim so loudly every time we gather to break open the Word and to share in the Eucharist. This belief in the ever-presence of Jesus whom we call Lord should guide us in whatever we choose to do and in every action we choose to pursue. As Americans, we know that greed, selfishness, and abuse of power and position are still with us – and all-too-often with us in abundance. Where, we may ask, in our day is there a voice crying in the wilderness?  Perhaps what we should really ask is a question of ourselves:  What am I doing and what choices am I making to live a life of grace, turned always toward God by looking squarely in the eyes of my brothers and sisters, trying each and every day to live as fully as I can the Good News that John and Jesus proclaim?

(c) Copyright 2012 – Timothy J MacGeorge

Apocalypse and Presence: Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dignity NoVA/DC – November 17/18, 2012* 

Rugged hills at Joshua Tree National Park

Readings

Apocalyptic.  That’s the word that describes the readings we just listened to, as we hear both Daniel and Jesus speak about “those days after the tribulation.” And if you have any doubt that these are, indeed, times of tribulation and impending doom…well, just listen to the news.  We can’t listen to the radio, or pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV without hearing of the impending “fiscal cliff” that lies ahead for the US economy and the dangers that await us all if we plunge off that cliff into some unknown abyss.  Some in our country who may have a particular outlook on politics and society see in the outcome of the recent elections signs that the end of civilization as we know it is surely in sight … After all, the presidential election did not go as they had hoped; the first openly gay woman has been elected to the US Senate, and the citizens of four US states voted either to recognize same-sex marriage explicitly, or at least not to prohibit it constitutionally.  But for me, however, the clearest signal that the end of the world is in sight came this week with the horrific news that Hostess is going out of business! What could be a more clear sign that the tribulation is at hand than the fact that Hostess Cup Cakes, Ding Dongs, Ring Dings and Twinkies are no more?!

Clearly, I’m joking.  But it is true that all of these things are happening in our world today, just as it’s true that they are reported or discussed with great urgency and angst.

It’s also just as true that these types of readings that we have on this, the second to last Sunday of our Liturgical year, can be difficult for many people, especially those who don’t understand what the Bible really is.  Those who think that the Bible is a single book and who take literally all that it contains fail to understand that the Bible is actually a collection of books – a small library, as it were – of books that were written over the course of many centuries, in different times and places, even in different languages, for different audiences and with different purposes.  Biblical literature comes in many genres – including poetry, history, gospel, as well as the type of apocalyptic literature that we have today.

Today’s first and third readings are clearly apocalyptic writings. Historically, this type of literature seems to arise in unsettled times, times when the authors experience either imagined, exaggerated, or very real tribulation and crisis.  It’s the kind of writing that comes about when people who are experiencing great hardship need to know that the hardship will not last forever and that they will survive.

Specifically, the passage from the Book of Daniel describes the time in the 2nd century BCE (Before the Christian Era) when Israel was occupied by the Syrians under the Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Under his leadership, the Syrians tried to impose their language, culture and religion on the Jews. The Jews did not have the political or military strength to defeat the invaders, so they found solace in the belief that someday the Syrians would be defeated and leave. That belief gave them courage to endure present trials.  They clung to what we as Christians, speaking of the Resurrection, call the “sure and certain hope” that God and God’s goodness would ultimately prevail.

Our Gospel passage from Mark was written when the community of Christians was still quite young.  Christians were outsiders – and therefore despised by people and persecuted by the government. Although they were not seeking to replace Roman rule with Christian rule, it was this same experience of being excluded from the wider community that directed their vision to a world beyond the present day, to a time when their faith would be vindicated and the Reign of God, ushered in by God’s Son, would prevail.

I have to be honest and say that I typically pay little heed to Apocalyptic literature – even in the Scriptures.  Probably that’s because it seems to attract an odd type of person, but also because they tend to generate in us a sense of anxiety and worry over things that we can do nothing about.

And yet, I also have to wonder if there isn’t a message for us in our own day about what these sorts of writings have to say, some two millennia further down the road of history?  Is there a lesson to be learned, a truth to be uncovered, a pearl of wisdom to be appreciated in such writings?

Obviously the answer is yes.  Two things come to mind.  First, these writings, in drawing our attention to the future, remind us that the present day is passing away and that the world as we know it will not last forever.  Our experience of life and the world tells us that all things evolve and change and ultimately pass away … pass away into we know not what.  And so whether our future lasts for one year – or a trillion years – it really doesn’t matter, does it? Whether the Second Coming of Jesus happens in our lifetime or not – as it probably will not – it really doesn’t matter, does it?  What matters is, as one scripture scholar put it, we need to see these apocalyptic writings “not so much [as] a warning about the end of the world, [but rather] as … a commentary on living in it. This day, this moment, this life, … NOW is the time to bear the fruit” as faithful disciples of the Lord. Now is the time for us to live lives rooted in justice and charity.  These writings may draw our attention momentarily toward the future; but they also serve as a reminder that the only real moment we have is NOW.

And so NOW, we believe that life is meaningful and has purpose.  We believe that in some way unknown the hand of God is at work in human history.  We believe that goodness and not evil will have the last say.  And most especially – coming from our own experience as outsiders, as individuals and as part of communities who know what it means to be excluded – we believe that every person on the face of this earth reflects the eternal beauty of the Divine Image and is worthy of dignity, respect, and love.

As we come to the end of this church year, as we celebrate our national day of Thanksgiving this week, and even as we struggle as a Church, a Nation and a World to work together for the good of all, let us make our own the words of the Psalmist:  “You are my inheritance, O Lord! You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”

*I typically draw upon many sources in preparing my homilies. But this one owes a particular debt to Roger Vermalen Karban and James Smith, Preaching Resources for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Celebration Publications (www.celebrationpublications.com).

(c) Copyright 2012 – Timothy J MacGeorge

Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dignity Nova/DC – September 15/16, 2012

Readings

Our first reading for today should be very familiar.  It’s part of a long section from the prophet Isaiah that includes what scripture scholars refer to as the “four servant songs.”  Beginning in Chapter 40 and going through Chapter 53 of “second Isaiah” or “deutero Isaiah,” these poetic passages introduce the Servant of Yahweh in what we as post-resurrection Christians see as prophecies about the Messiah.  The sacred author describes this Servant:

  • First, as Chosen – “My chosen one in whom my soul delights.”
  • Second, as Missioned – “I will make you a light to the nations.”
  • Fourth, as Suffering – “He was oppressed and afflicted; … like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.”

It’s from the third of such poetic songs that we hear today, as the Servant of God is described as steadfast and obedient. Even when faced with the violence and cruelty of rejection, God’s Servant has set his face “like flint,” trusting in the presence and promise of God, believing that whatever may befall him, God is there.

That’s the backdrop by which we must hear the words of Mark in today’s Gospel. Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” It’s a prelude to the real question that the disciples must answer – and one that we must answer as well:  Jesus wants to know, “Who do you say that I am?” This is a question not of Identity, but of Being.  Jesus wants to know if they have yet grasped who HE IS?

And while Jesus must surely have been pleased with Peter’s quick declaration, “You are the Christ – the anointed one – the Messiah,” we know that Peter the Rock quickly becomes Peter the stumbling block.  In not wanting to accept the fact that Jesus’ Messiah-ship is different than what he (Peter) thinks it should be, Peter in that all-too-human, cocky, “just like a guy” kind of way, stops being a disciple, a learner, a follower … and figuratively jumps out in front of Jesus.  Peter at least did have the good sense to rebuke Jesus in private – and you can almost see the two off to the side with Peter saying some version of, “Hey, look Boss, you’re supposed to be the Messiah, not some common criminal who is going to suffer and get rejected and get killed. Where’s the victory in that? Where’s the Kingdom in that? You’re sounding not like a winner, but like the worst possible loser.  C’mon, get with the program!”

But Jesus will have none of it.  Then, Jesus does an interesting thing.  He “turns around” and looks at his disciples, and then he rebukes Peter.  It’s almost as if both by his actions and his words, Jesus teaches Peter the lesson he needs to learn.  Jesus rebukes Peter, calling him “Satan” and telling him to “get behind me.” In doing so, Jesus is telling Peter that he has forgotten who is the leader and who is the disciple.  What Jesus is saying is that ‘on this, my journey of doing the will of the Father – a journey that leads ultimately to rejection and pain and suffering and even death – you as my disciple belong behind me, not in front of me. I am leading the way, because I am doing the will of my Abba/Father. ’

And then, Jesus speaks in a way that certainly must have been confusing to those disciples and the crowd that heard him – as it’s certainly something confusing to us.  The Christian scriptures and the teachings of Jesus are often filled with paradox.  Paradox is the sort of statement that seems contradictory; it’s the type of statement or declaration that makes no sense to our rational, logical, Western way of thinking – to what many spiritual guides calls the dualistic mind.  If the way we experience life and the world and others and reality is dualistic – namely, always in terms of right and wrong, good and bad, yes and no, in and out, included and excluded, black and white … or, for that matter … Democrat and Republican, male and female, American and foreigner, rich and poor, gay and straight, young and old… the list could go on and on! … if we experience the world only on this way, then we will never fully understand and grasp the many paradoxes of Christian faith.  In this instance, Jesus proclaims what is perhaps the ultimate paradox of Christianity – life means death, and death is life. “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

Earlier this week I was listening to an audio book by a psychotherapist who has worked in the gay community for a long time.  He made a comment almost in passing that struck me.  He said that we as gay people – especially gay men and women of a certain age, though I suspect it’s true of many of us regardless of age – sometimes have difficulty accessing our feelings, sometimes have difficulty being fully aware of our emotional self.  And, he pointed out, when we do have access to that side of ourselves and are “in touch with our emotions,” the feeling that very many of us have the easiest access to is our anger.  The therapist was making this point in the context of gay men and their relationships, having grown up largely in a society and culture that was, more likely than not, unwelcoming. Having to hide who we are for much of our lives, being taught by the dominant culture that we are some sort of abominable aberration, and having the experience of being rejected in so many direct and indirect ways – it’s no wonder that many of us have such anger.  As I heard that, what struck me was not only the probable truth of his observation, but also how equally true it probably is for us as Gay Catholics in our religious context of “the Church.” Perhaps I’m just speaking for myself and engaging in a little projection, but I know that I have anger – dare I say, a “righteous anger?” – toward the institution I love so dearly called Church.  I suspect I’m not alone in saying that.

Whether we can see that in ourselves or not, each of us is challenged by the Gospel of Jesus to follow him even when and perhaps especially when we experience anger, when we feel hurt, when we know pain, and when we are rejected.  In those situations our first tendency is to be not like Jesus or the Servant of God, but rather like Peter, isn’t it?  Our inclination is to put up our defenses, saying this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, and change the game plan to what we want. Now … don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that situations that give rise to anger and hurt and pain and rejection are necessarily part of God’s plan and that we should simply be passive and docile in the face of what may truly be situations of injustice or even evil.  What I AM saying is that the mind and heart we must bring to those situations – and really to every person and every situation in life – is the mind of Jesus, the heart of the one sought always to know and do the will of God.  After all, doesn’t the passage from the Letter of James remind us that action is essential to a life of faith … that claims of faithfulness are empty and meaningless if we don’t put that faith into concrete practice that make better the lives of others in need? Let our prayer this day and every day be that we do, indeed, have what it takes to be faithful disciples of Jesus, following him wherever the Spirit of God may lead us.

(c) Copyright 2012 – Timothy J MacGeorge

The Right, the Left, and Bible as “alternative history”

I don’t think I ever knew the origins for “right” and “left” in terms of politics, but it’s interesting how the original meanings of some terms give insight into current usage!

Also, what fundamentalist preacher would describe the Bible as “alternative history from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor…”???

In Response to Hate: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dignity Nova/DC – July 28/29, 2012 (Readings)

No doubt the biggest news items you’ve heard over the past week or so include:

  • Coverage of the horrific violence that happened last weekend in Colorado when a heavily armed man – who is probably mentally ill – shot up a movie theater, killing and injuring so many; or
  • The build up to and the non-stop coverage of the Olympic Games that are getting underway in London; or
  • Local coverage of the 19th International AIDS Conference that was finally able to be held here in the US; and
  • Of course, the coverage of this year’s campaign as President Obama and Governor Romney continue to slug it out for the keys to the White House.

What you might not have heard, however, are these stories about…

  • The man in Oklahoma City who sustained 2nd degree burns after his car was vandalized and fire-bombed; or
  • The 17-year old young woman in Louisville, Kentucky who was attacked by a group of adults as she walked home from a convenience store with two younger boys, who are neighborhood friends; or – and most troubling of all,
  • The 33-year old woman in Lincoln, Nebraska whose home was set on fire after 3 masked men broke in during the night and mutilated her skin, carving slurs that justified the classification of this horrific act as a Hate Crime.

The common thread between these last three is that all three victims are gay.  All three were known to be gay or lesbian and were simply going about living – just like you and I do every day – their daily, fairly mundane lives.  Suddenly, out of the blue and without warning, a violence borne of hate tore their lives apart in ways they will never forget and in ways that will leave lasting scars – both literally and figuratively.

Today’s Gospel reading is the first 15 verses of the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John.  Over the next several weeks – in fact for the entire month of August – we will hear practically the entire rest of this chapter and its more than 70 verses.  For the most part, this section of John’s Gospel is referred to as the “Bread of Life Discourse,” and it starts off with this passage we just listened to, the miracle story of the multiplication of five barley loaves and a few fish so very familiar to us all.  As we move through the following weeks and hear Jesus explain in various ways that the Bread of Life, the Bread from Heaven, is indeed his very Body and Blood, the final Gospel reading of August will conclude with these words:

“’The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe’….  As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

To be a follower of Jesus is not easy – it never has been and never will be. If we doubt that, we simply need to hear again that even among those who knew Jesus in the flesh, even among those who saw him with their own eyes and who heard him with their own ears – even among these some came to a place where following him was too difficult, where being his disciple was too demanding, and so they turned around, they went back to a “former way of life” and could not find it in their minds or their hearts to continue accompanying him, allowing their lives to be transformed by the Gospel of Love and of Peace that he preached.

What I’d like to draw our attention, to, however, is not the theological and spiritual significance of these very important Gospel passages.  These Scriptures are indeed quite formative for us as Catholic Christians, and especially for our understanding of sacramentality and our unshakeable belief in what we call the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine of Eucharist.

No, what I’d like to draw our attention to is the second reading from Ephesians – especially in view of those news stories I mentioned.  Scripture scholars tell us this letter was written probably not by Paul himself, but by a disciple of Paul. As a whole, the overall theme of the Letter to the Ephesians speaks to the Unity that should exist among the followers of Jesus. As the letter states, we are called to preserve unity in the Spirit through the bond of Peace.  The author challenges us not simply to believe something, but actually to live our lives marked by virtues that characterize Christian behavior. The three virtues named here are humility, gentleness, and patience.  By embracing these and living these, we will then be united in the Spirit through that bond of Peace.

That’s all well and good for us who believe the same things, who see the world through similar eyes, and who place our faith in the same God Whom we believe is indeed “over all and in all and through all.”  But what about those who may not only believe differently than we do, but who even hate or despise us for whatever reason?  How do we respond to those who speak words of hate to us or to any one else who is “other” simply because of who they are? What do we when face to face with those who who teach their children to hate, and who say that it’s OK to do violence – which is the offspring of hate – towards those who are different? What do we do when words which sew the seeds of hate sometimes come from those in our midst most called to preach the Gospel and its fundamental assertion that we are all the beloved sons and daughters of God? And … when we see what others can do to our LGBT brothers and sisters, how is it possible to be humble, gentle, and patient in the face of that!? And of course, perhaps the most difficult question of all is, where might there be hatred in our own lives and hearts, and how do we respond when the forces of this world tug at us incessantly, trying to pull us back to a “former way of life”?

I ask these questions not because I have any answers, but simply to remind us that the world in which we live and the Peace that God alone gives will shine forth only when we who claim to be Jesus’ disciples live our lives each day with greater humility, gentleness, and patience.  Even for those who would do us harm, is not this our call as disciples? Let us pray that even in the face of the most horrific acts of violence as well as the daily acts of unkindness we may encounter, we may always respond to one another and to all with humility, gentleness and patience.

A God for All People – Homily for the Epiphany of the Lord

Homily for the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord
Dignity NoVA/DC – January 7/8, 2012

Readings

Today the Church invites us to continue reflecting on the Mystery of the Christmas message as we celebrate the Feast of Epiphany of the Lord.  The traditional day for this celebration is January 6, and in some cultures it’s commonly referred to as Little Christmas. The word “Epiphany” means a “manifestation” or a “showing forth” and it commemorates the visit to the infant Jesus by the “astrologers” from the east, the Magi of whom Matthew speaks in today’s gospel.  When we examine this passage along with the other Scriptures that are before us, we see that the theme and message of this feast is really very simple. Essentially, this day reminds us that the salvation which is to be bestowed on the House of Israel is not restricted to the House of Israel – that the gift of God’s very self is intended for all nations and all peoples.  I suppose the message can be summed up quite easily in that one line from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, which he describes as his “insight into the mystery of Christ.” Paul tells us “… that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

The dawn of a new day and a new year - sunrise at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, January 1, 2012.

“So what?” you might ask.  “What is so new about that? After all, our tradition for over two thousand years has acknowledged that the message of the Gospel is to be shared with all people.”   The answer for us today, I think, can be found when we really reflect on the question, “What does it mean to be ‘members of the same body’ and ‘copartners of the promise’?”

The people of Jesus’ day believed that God would one day save his people – and so they looked forward with hopeful expectation to the coming of the Messiah.  But for many the Messiah for whom they looked was not the apparently powerless infant of Bethlehem, but rather they awaited the coming of a powerful descendant of the House of David who would free his people from the oppression of foreign domination, bringing judgment and condemnation to those who were not of the Chosen People.

This feast we celebrate today reminds us that such a limited hope was misguided.  It reminds us that the great gift of God in the person of God’s Son is not given merely to a single person, a single family, a single town, a single culture, a single nation, a single religion, or a single Church.  No one – no priest or pope; no president, politician or presidential candidate; no bishop or pastor; no woman or man has a monopoly on that presence of God now Incarnate in the world.  Epiphany reminds us that all peoples are the intended recipients of God’s gift of self and all that flows from this connection with the Divine.  At is core, the message of the Lord’s Epiphany reminds us that the Gospel is characterized by inclusion, not exclusion; letting us not forget that there is more than enough room for all at the Lord’s Table and in God’s Kingdom.

Such a realization has great implications for those of us whom Paul refers to as “copartners,” or sharers, in the promise of the Gospel.  We believe that we do indeed share in the gift of God’s promise to Israel and that the blessings of new life in Christ are ours. But there are two dimensions to that sharing. We are not only sharers in that we have received this gift in the passive sense; but we are also called to be sharers in the more active sense, being called to share this great gift of faith and of life with one another.  We are called to share our gifts and our talents, to share all that we have and all that we are, to open the doors of our hearts and our lives to be a people who welcome and embrace others.

That’s not always an easy thing to do.  One thing that can help us live up to that call is to develop a keener sense of being able to see – as did the Magi – the presence of God Incarnate in our world.  Yes, it’s very, very easy to see situations in which God seems to be absent … but can we develop our senses of the soul so that we see and hear and touch the Divine so very present in the world all around us?

I don’t profess to be any better at this than anyone else, but here are just two examples from this past week in which I recognized God’s presence.   I was fortunate enough to get away for a couple days last weekend and see the beauty of the dawn on New Year’s Day as the sun rose over the horizon.  That sunrise – including time spent with a few special friends – was clearly painted by the hand of God, and for it I am very thankful.  More recently I think we need to recognize the presence of God as seen in the very public apology delivered by a Cardinal of the Church, something that doesn’t happen very often.  Chicago’s archbishop Cardinal Francis George publicly recognized the harm and hurt his words had done a week before in comparing the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan.  Just as I had been shocked by his initial comparison, I never expected that he would apologize has he has done. The cardinal said:

“I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused. Particularly because we all have friends or family members who are gay and lesbian. This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it’s part of our lives. So I’m sorry for the hurt.”

May our prayer this Epiphany day be that we are a not only able to see and name God in our midst, but that we may also be more faithful copartners in the promise of the Gospel by sharing God’s love, hope, presence and peace with everyone we meet every day of our lives.