Jesus said, “I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
“Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. (Luke 4:25-29)
Last Sunday we read that the Lord Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and announced to the faithful Jews in His hometown that He is the Messiah.
We might think that this dramatic revelation would have led to immediate euphoria. We might think that, when the Messiah revealed Himself to the people who had known Him since He was a boy, everybody would have believed, and rejoiced, and smiled, and hugged, and said nice things about each other.
But this is not what happened. The people in the synagogue doubted. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
This consoles me as I careen through my fortieth year, an old man with rickety knees and a memory like a sieve.
Sometimes I listen to this sweet song, which takes me back to the spring when I was twenty-three:
Even more encouraging is the fact that, in Christ, we live forever.
Here are a few words from St. John Chrysostom about the holy Apostle Paul:
Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what man really is…Each day he rose up with greater ardor and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him…
As for tyrannical rulers or the people enraged against him, he paid them no more heed than gnats…Death itself and pain and whatever torments might come were but child’s play to him, provided that thereby he might bear some burden for the sake of Christ.
…The men’s basketball season progresses one tough game at a time. That said, I have two words for you, Hoyas fans: National Championship.
The Hoyas tore up the hapless Rutgers Scarlet Knights this afternoon.
The most interesting part of the game was a Subway radio commercial. The delirious announcer promises a hot pastrami sandwich, “We will follow you blindly, like nearsighted bison on a flavor stampede.”
Here is a homily for tomorrow’s Holy Mass:
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you. (Luke 1:1-3)
In the synagogue in Nazareth, the Lord Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
Our kind and loving Creator is giving us this year of 2010. He has given us almost a month of it already. What are we going to do with this precious gift?
We are not little amoebas floating in the waters of time. We are not bystanders of 2010, watching it flow by, as it becomes the kind of year that is not acceptable to God, with nothing for us to do about it. No. We can take a firm grip on A.D. 2010 and turn it into something beautiful and good.
Now, let me tell you the first thing we are going to do to make this year acceptable. This year we are going to read the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
The first seventeen of them urge the poet’s young friend to get married and have many babies.
Sonnet #1, for example:
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
Your unworthy scribe has no homily for you today. Downtown pastors do more hosting than preaching when the Catholic world comes to town.
Instead, in the hopes that you will understand my humble protestation of affection, I present you also with Sonnet #103:
Alack what poverty my muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside.
O blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass and there appears a face,
That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend,
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell.
And more, much more than in my verse can sit,
Your own glass shows you, when you look in it.
Just a little reminder that tomorrow is St. Agnes Day.
On January 21, at the Basilica of St. Agnes in Rome, two lambs are presented at the sanctuary rail as the choir sings “on her right hand a lamb whiter than snow” (stans a dextris ejus agnus nive candidior).
When your name sounds like one of Christ’s titles in Latin, your feast day becomes special.
In the springtime, the lambs will be shorn. The wool will make the pallia of the new Archbishops.
The pallia sit on the tomb of St. Peter from June 28 to June 29, then make their way to the cities of the world.
…P.S. Big Hoyas game against Pitt tonight.
I will miss the whole thing, because I have class. (Argh!)
I just took a nice long look at my autographed Matt Bradley jersey. It reads, “To Father White, Thanks for Rocking the Red!”
To my horror, I realized: My pathetic blog has ignored the Capitals in a shameful manner.
At this moment: 1. The Caps are leading their division. 2. The Caps are tied with the Detroit Red Wings after two periods.
Who just scored? Matt Bradley, people! My man Matt Bradley.
Please forgive me for my inexcusable neglect of the best team in town. Mea culpa. Caps ROCK!
…Here’s a question: What comes naturally to us?
On the one hand, we could say that it comes naturally to us to acknowledge the awesome greatness of our Creator. It is natural to humble ourselves before Him and to want to please Him. We were made by God and for God, so to worship Him is the most natural thing in the world.
On the other hand, we could also say: It comes naturally to us to be selfish, lazy, obtuse, and given to seeking short-term gratification. We are born sinners, so sinning comes naturally.
Both of these answers to the question are true. How do we deal with this mess?
Two months ago, I was in the town of Cana. All the couples in our pilgrim group renewed their wedding vows in the church built on the spot where the Lord turned water into wine.
Then we went on to the Sea of Galilee, where we spent the day. In the evening, we got on the bus to head back to Nazareth, where we were staying. On the way, the perfect thing happened.
We had to pass through Cana on the way back. The region of Galilee is rural countryside. There are not a lot of roads, and the roads are narrow. The only way from the Sea of Galilee to Nazareth is through Cana.
So we drove back into Cana, and, like I said, the perfect thing happened: We got stuck in a traffic jam.
It took us 40 minutes to get through two traffic lights. There were just too many cars and not enough road. Rush hour in Cana of Galilee.
This was the perfect thing to happen. The miracles of Christ are things that really took place, in this very world of ours, where traffic also occurs. The world where Jesus worked miracles, and the world where you and I get stuck in traffic: It is the same world.
In the town where we sat at a red light for half an hour, the God-man went to a wedding of poor people.
The family had done everything within their means to provide for their guests. Now they were confronted with an embarrassing situation.
What Christ did for them is very revealing.
Let us first take note of what He did not do. He did not say, “It’s just as well the wine ran out, because these people have already had more than enough fun.”
No. He did not frown. He smiled. He turned water for ritual purification into an enormous amount of choice table wine. The joy and revelry did not end. The Son of God kept it going.
The fact that our Lord did this is revealing for two reasons. First: It reveals the kind of human heart He has. His Heart is generous. He does not measure His kindness. He does not give with one hand and take with the other. He just loves.
The second thing His action reveals is even more profound. The loving kindness of Christ the man reveals to us the infinite divine love of Christ our God.
We can neither perceive nor imagine the love of God. God’s qualities are altogether beyond the capacities of our little minds. But the human love of Christ give us a glimpse of the ineffable divine love. One of the saints put it like this:
Nothing so much attracts our poor hearts as to contemplate Jesus Christ, true God as well as true man, translating the eternal goodness into human deeds.
In Christ, the unknowable eternal goodness turned water into wine for a poor family in the little town where we sat in traffic. We cannot know God by ourselves, dear brothers and sisters. But Jesus reveals Him. And we see the sweet truth: God is kind.
Now, it is no accident that this revelation took place at a wedding.
The Lord Jesus was not destined to marry on earth. He came to die for the sins of all the children of Adam and Eve.
But He worked His first miracle at a wedding to show us this: God loves marriage and child-bearing. Yes, when we are born, we are born sinners. But it is still a good thing to be born. The human race is meant to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth. Christ came to save everyone ever born.
The miracle at Cana, then, was the beginning of what we call the “Culture of Life.” Christ showed us that day: God wants babies to be born.
This is what the March for Life is about. It is a continuation of the wedding at Cana.
Speaking of births, yesterday would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 81st birthday. Dr. King has a niece named Alveda. She recently wrote the following message to us:
I work in the civil rights movement of our century — the right of every one of every race to live.
I am asking you to join me. Let me tell you why. Abortion and racism are evil twins, born of the same lie…
Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human…So it is with abortion.
Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit…So it is with abortion.
Racism is a way to gain economic advantage at the expense of others. Slavery and plantations may be gone, but racism still allows us to regard those who may keep us from financial gain as less than equals. So it is with abortion.
Listen: Dr. King was killed before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal on January 22, 1973. But you know that if he were still alive, he would be marching on Friday.
If any of us think that the pro-life cause is not our problem, not our fight to fight, we need to think again.
Dr. King would be yelling at us right now. He yelled a lot louder in the pulpit than I ever do.
He would yell, “Get yourself up! Stand up for what you know is right! Every little baby in the womb—every black one, every white, yellow, or red one—every last one has the right to be born!”