We Discover “our Star” in the Ordinary Course of our Daily Lives
“… behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him.”
Perhaps you’ve seen the touching Christmas episode of The West Wing which first aired several years ago but has since been repeated.
A few days before Christmas, Toby Ziegler, the President’s sarcastic and sardonic communications director, receives a call from the Washington D.C. police asking if he knows a homeless man who had died in the cold the night before. Toby has no idea who the man is. The police find Toby’s card in the coat the man was wearing — Toby had given the coat to a shelter a long time ago. Toby discovers that the man was a decorated Vietnam veteran; his only survivor is a brother who also lives on the streets. Toby uses his Presidential connections to arrange for the man’s internment with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Christmas Eve.Continue reading →
“Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth?”
During the 1930’s Winston Churchill experienced what are called his “wilderness years.” He was out of government, out of office and out of style. His day was over and done with, his influence on British public life seemingly in decline. Churchill retired to his country home in Kent, south of London, tended his garden, built brick walls and brooded.
In particular, he brooded about Hitler and the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe. Alarmed at what he heard about the rearmament of Germany, Churchill began to make speeches in the House of Commons, calling on the government of the day to be vigilant and to rearm the country against the threat of Nazi might. In reply, Members of Parliament denounced Churchill as a warmonger. After the horror of the First World War, nobody wanted to contemplate the possibility of another conflict. Peace was the order of the day, and any talk of arms and fighting would only serve to depress people and to dishearten them. It was madness to talk of war, and only a madman would contemplate such a thing. Churchill was ignored. But Churchill was right. The sad truth came all too quickly, to blight another generation and to send millions to the grave.Continue reading →
We are halfway through the Jubilee Holy Year of Mercy and yet many people are not fully aware of it and its implications. Fewer yet seem to have taken advantage of what Pope Francis and the Holy Year has offered us. This particular Holy Year is very unique in two areas that include its treatment of abortion and the ease of a pilgrimage to the Holy Door. Please give me a few minutes of your time so I can explain what the Holy Year is and how we can take advantage of it.
Pope Francis opened the Holy Door (Porta Sancta) at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on December 8, 2015 to inaugurate this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was also present as were numerous others. Pope Francis earlier said “On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.”
There were two reasons given by Pope Francis for selecting this particular date. One reason is that this date marks the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis points out that this represents God’s action in choosing Mary as the mother of man’s Redeemer. A second reason is that it represents the 50th anniversary of the closing date of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. The Church feels a great need to keep this date alive. Continue reading →
“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me …”
Every evening she could hear the newborn in the apartment next door cry and cry. The parents put the child to sleep alone in the dark. The baby cries for a long time; the exhausted parents clearly are oblivious to their child’s anguish or are at a loss as to what to do.
What can or should she do? She’s not sure. Speaking to the parents might make what is just an annoying situation into something much worse.
So, in her struggle and anguish, she decides to pray. And lo and behold; during her earnest prayer, God’s good grace inspires her to sing!Continue reading →
Samaritan Woman at the Well: A Different Perspective
The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I can see that you are a prophet? Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
In 1923, the Jewish theologian Martin Buber wrote an immensely influential little book entitled I and Thou. Buber’s main point is that there are two ways of relating to other people in our lives: We can see them as objects to be used – what Buber calls an “I-it” relationship; or we can see others as having feelings, dreams and needs as real and as important as our own that can be the basis for dialogue and relationship – an “I-Thou” relationship.
In his memoirs, Buber tells the story of how he came to his theory of I-Thou and I-It. When he was a professor of philosophy at a university in Germany, a young student came to see him. The student had received his draft notice to serve in the German army in World War I. He was a pacifist by nature and afraid of being killed in battle, but, at the same time, he was a loyal and fiercely patriotic German. He asked Buber what he should do: serve his country and risk being killed or claim conscientious objector status and perhaps leave another young man to be killed in his place. Continue reading →