Accepting the Back Nine

“There is one among you whom you do not recognize.” John 1:26

St. John the Baptist spoke these terrifying words to some Pharisees—some Pharisees who did not acknowledge that the Messiah was then walking the earth. God had become man, but these Pharisees did not recognize it.

Perhaps we can understand the Pharisees’ confusion. They saw Jesus’ miracles. But they also saw a man with a former prostitute and a former tax collector among His closest friends. The Pharisees heard His noble teachings about prayer, penance, and purity in God’s sight. But they also heard Him presume to forgive sins, and they heard Him promise to rebuild the Temple in three days after it was destroyed.

The Nazarene carpenter had them quite confused: An amazingly powerful and noble guttersnipe, beautiful and out of His mind. He fed multitudes, slept on rocks in the wilderness, caused trouble in Jerusalem, and captivated everyone with His words. He talked like God, acted like God, and walked like a rustic Galilean.

Continue reading “Accepting the Back Nine”

At Work While Resting

My Father is at work until now, so I am at work. (John 5:17)

One of the great ironies of history: the Pharisees turned doing nothing into an intolerable burden. No job could have been more demanding than properly resting on the sabbath. The toil of the week might have been fraught with worries, but on the sabbath you had to be especially careful.

One of the great ironies of my own personal life: Nothing relaxes me, nothing soothes me or gives me rest, like a nice long run. Perhaps you non-runners will dismiss this as sheer insanity. But everyone can relate somehow. We find genuine rest not in supine couch-slouching but in some activity that harmonizes with a rhythm we have inside. Could be gardening, clubbing the little white ball around the dale, bridge or pinochle, kicking the soccer ball, downing beers in the Martinsville speedway infield, reading a book…In other words, in order to rest, we do something that requires attention and effort.

The Son of God became man to do the work He sees His Father doing. What does Christ see His Father doing? Only He Himself can answer that question completely. But, at the very least, He sees His Father doing what we see His Father doing—which is everything that gets done, except sins.

Make the sun rise, sustain the earth in existence, move us to do any good that we do, keep the possibility of heaven out there for another day—all in a day’s work for the heavenly Father. And He does it all day, day in and day out, 24/7, 365 or 366 days a year, for the entire length of the history of the universe.

Ought we to say, “Lord, we love You and we appreciate it. But You are working too hard. We are wearing You out. Take a day off and relax.”

No. The Lord has no trouble sustaining His unimaginably enormous workload. Being the Creator and sustainer of all things does not exhaust Him. It is, in fact, His pleasure. To work every good work that is worked provides God with a perpetual sabbath. He could do infinitely more work effortlessly.

The same thing goes for the Son made man. Did it exhaust Christ to teach the truth to the human race? Did He get tired of healing the sick and feeding the multitudes? Did it wear Him out to take all our sins on His back, carry them to Golgatha, and incinerate them on the altar of the cross?

No. Even descending into hell did not tire the Lord Jesus. He woke up refreshed, talked to Mary Magdalen, walked all the way to Emmaus, and He was still fresh as a daisy when He came to the upper room at supper time.

We must, however, obey the commandment and keep the sabbath rest. The Pharisees were right in this respect: Resting on the sabbath distinguishes the people of God. The pagans slave themselves and squander their vitality with fruitless agitations. But Israel heeds the law of Moses, which recounts the serene holiness of the Lord’s day.

So, how do we keep it? How can we act and rest at the same time, to the glory of God, Who moves the heavens without breaking a sweat? There is only one way: By believing in the Son Whom He has sent. Faith in Christ is the most fruitful work and the sweetest rest.

Ray, Jason, and St. Simon

campbell

ray romanoI.
Not sure how to watch the “Golf Channel.” But if I could, I would definitely tune in for Raymond’s golf lessons

II.
Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. Let’s stop taking around things. Let’s stop living in a fantasy world.

The problem has a name.

He is tall. He is handsome.

But he is not a good NFL quarterback. He never has been, and he never will be.

The problem IS: Number 17, Jason Campbell…

III.
In honor of Friday, the day our Lord carried the cross, we present a beautiful meditation submitted by an anonymous reader:

Simon says… Blood, Sweat, and Incense

A great gift was given to St Simon of Cyrene; a gift he didn’t want at first. He didn’t want to become involved in Our Dear Lord’s Passion. He probably would have preferred to be an anonymous face in the crowd. He was merely a strong man in the right place, at the right time. Simon was pressed into service; forced to assist our Dear Lord in His struggle. But, through this forced burden, Simon became a great saint.

Continue reading “Ray, Jason, and St. Simon”

Emperor Has No Clothes

John Daly's pants just get better and better
John Daly's pants just get better and better
Today I announced that a new parochial vicar will arrive at our parish on August 8. After Mass, I received the greatest compliment I have ever gotten:

“Father, we will miss your homilies and your cufflinks.”

…The Emperor who has no clothes is the Washington Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Such emperors are always surrounded by toadies. In this case, the Washington Post, the City Paper, and the Washingtonian‘s one-time critic are among the cheer-leading toadies.

I was able to see King Lear at the Harman Center through the gracious generosity of a friend, and I am grateful for his kindness.

wstc king learWe have been down this road before. The Shakespeare-Theatre-Company production of Twelfth Night turned out to be painfully “gimmick-ridden,” and utterly unsatisfying for this “Shakespeare fundamentalist.”

The problem is: Their production of King Lear is laden with more gimmicks than twelve Twelfth Nights. And all of the gimmicks in this production of King Lear are gross with a capital G.

Gross beyond the point of gratuity. Gross beyond the point of abysmal taste. Gross to the point of embarrassment.

Continue reading “Emperor Has No Clothes”

Retiring the Naps

New Bests above.

Best way to get rid of a headache: Take a nap.
Best mood-improvement method: Take a nap.
Best thing to do while watching golf on television: Take a nap.
Best way to avoid getting caught-up in the yoga craze: Take a nap.
Best way to go from desolation to consolation during a Holy Hour: Take a nap.
Best way to combat clerical ennui: Take a nap.
Best way to show your couch that you truly appreciate it: Take a nap.
Best way to pass the time on a train: Take a nap.
Not interested? Take a nap.

A Tale of Four Parts of the Metropolis

I have made quite a few local peregrinations, inside and outside the Beltway. In my travels across the metro area, I have made a few little observations.

There are distinct differences among the towns, the counties, and the states, all within 25 miles of the U.S. Capitol. I will try to synthesize my observations for your consideration and comment. Allow me to draw the following distinctions…

District of Columbia: heavy rush-hour traffic
Montgomery County: cruel rush-hour traffic
Prince George’s County: cruel and unusual rush-hour traffic
Northern Virginia: free parking on the roadways in the afternoon

P.G.: dysfunctional local government
Montgomery: over-functional local government
District: not-as-bad-as-it-used-to-be local government
NoVa: no local government

NoVa: Pentagon
P.G.: FedEx Field
District: White House
Montgomery: White Flint

Montgomery: golf
District: aggressive bicycling and/or art films
P.G.: creek fishing
NoVa: Civil War re-enactment

P.G.: megachurches
Montgomery: megaplexes
District: megaphones and/or megalomania
NoVa: meatloaf

NoVa: Virginia Beach
Montgomery: Cape Cod
District: Outer Banks
P.G.: Ocean City

Dist: Redskins
Mont.: Redskins
P.G.: REDSKINS
NoVa: Redskins

Montgomery: Never knowingly entered P.G. County
NoVa: “Where is Laurel? Never heard of it. Is it in America?”
P.G.: Germantown is near Germany
N.W. D.C.: Bethesda or bust
S.E. D.C.: Largo Town Center or bust

Montgomery: Major religion: Catholic
NoVa: Major religion: Catholic
P.G.: Major religion involving both black and white people: Catholic
District: Major religion: None

NoVa: Hooah!
P.G.: Go, girl!
Dist: Check, please.
Mont: Were you speaking to me?

Mont.: I-270
Dist: Metro
P.G.: Walking on the shoulder (in dark clothing at night)
NoVa: Slugging

Mont: Clyde’s
Dist: Chef Geoff’s
NoVa: Cheesecake Factory
P.G.:

P.G.: Obama
Dist.: Obama
Montgomery: Obama
NoVa: Obama

Dist: Ethiopians
Mont.: Jews
P.G.: Horse-farmers
NoVa: Schismatic conservative Episcopalians

Montgomery: Bertucci brownie
P.G.: Three Musketeers
District: dieting
NoVa: Dairy Queen

Montgomery: Saab or hybrid
District: Smart Car
P.G.: Chevy Impala
NoVa: Fuel-efficient S.U.V.

P.G.: Family room
Montgomery: Deck
NoVa: Finished basement
District: Sidewalk cafe or 7-11

Now, let me hasten to add that what we all have in common outweighs these minor differences. The good Lord makes his sun shine and his rain fall on both the bad and the good in all the jurisdictions. A Big Daddy is 25 ounces in all of them. We are really one big happy family of a metropolitan area. It just takes all day to get from one side of it to the other, because of the traffic.