Each one heard

266297.pToday, Sunday, June 9, 2019 is Pentecost, that great feast of the promised coming of the Holy Spirit.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Yesterday I read this at church, and as I stood at the ambo, I was filled with a Holy Spirit moment of my own. Having practiced the reading enough to memorize some of it, I was able to look up and out at the congregation before me, I had one of those Thomas Merton moments. If you are not familiar, one day he was standing on a street corner and saw through new eyes, in a Pentecost-like moment.

42b3fc66-c2d1-4bd7-9291-7bc6f6e931fcEveryone looked the same – yet so different to me at that moment. Not unlike what we read in the Acts of the Apostles, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” Yes, here we were, a church full of Catholics, a big church – literally and figuratively – gathered as one in Christ. At a time when I feel deeply upset and highly frustrated about the Church, I felt awash in a wave of love.

Somehow that love eluded me today as I read some things in the newspaper that were upsetting to me.  In these fractious times, as we grow Continue reading

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“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

4d728183cfc6215fb97bbe073949586f“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34

God shows no partiality. God made us all, God loves us all, equally no less. God shows no partiality. As the lector for the second reading at mass on Saturday evening, I was grateful to proclaim these words, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we hear these words and are invited to reflect upon them. What does the phrase say to you?

Jesus gets pulled in a lot of different directions. In fact, I am guilty as charged for doing some of this pulling. What makes for a more effective argument than trying to wrap it around Jesus?

Yesterday I heard a cleric on the radio, a rather high-ranking US cleric, talk about some things that might make me think that the unemployed might be lulled into not looking for a job if their unemployment benefits continue. He also talked about how the best weapon against poverty was a two-parent traditional marriage. Does God show partiality to traditional two-parent marriages of those who are gainfully employed? I don’t believe that he was saying that, but that is how it sounded. What was the subtle undercurrent of such a conversation? Was this part of the Jesus tug of war?

Baptism-of-Christ-Giottoi-_1305-1The Baptism of the Lord is an invitation for us consider just who we are in Christ through our baptism. We are all invited, God seeks every one of us. For the baptized, it is an awesome responsibility to live in what the sacrament bestowed upon us. We are not special, we are not loved more by God. We have a responsibility to bring others into our communities. Baptism is a sacrament of initiation into a community of believers, into the Body of Christ.

Every time we start pondering who is in and who is out – or who should be out, we are violating our baptismal covenant. If “God shows no partiality,” then how do we live the same way? This is easier said than done, whether we are paupers or princes of the church.

That is why we all need to stop thinking about what we think, and return our focus on Christ. Jesus shockingly asked John to baptize him, something that John “tried to prevent.” What does Jesus shockingly ask each of us? God is full of surprises, and if we are less partial, we just may encounter a few of those surprises. And in this way, may our baptismal promises be renewed, today and always.