A Parable, a Painting and a Book

Two Dutch people spring to mind whenever I hear the parable of the Prodigal Son – painter Rembrandt and priest Henri Nouwen.

In 1986, Fr. Henri Nouwen spent several hours gazing at Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. One of Rembrandt’s last paintings, it was painted, Nouwen says, “after a life of suffering.” First captivated by the painting when he spotted a replica of it on a poster in ...

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Autumn Renewal

Many people tell me they have mixed feelings about this time of year because even though they happily anticipate the artistic beauty of autumn, they know the cooler, shorter days foretell the arrival of winter and all that entails in New Brunswick…what Sr. Joyce Rupp calls an “unforgettable sacrament of absence.”  I have been avoiding even the thought of it for a couple of weeks now, but Summer 2019 is nearly over, leaving memories of long days spent with friends ...

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The Body and Blood of Christ

Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Like with any wonderful celebration, we serve food and beverages. Unlike any other celebration, what we share in food and drink isn’t elaborate, but ordinary. It is unbelievable to me that something as ordinary as bread becomes so extraordinary in task. We hear about meals being prepared and shared for people. We hear of Jesus feeding five thousand people with very limited resources. Throughout his journey, ...

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Boast in Suffering? Seriously?

In today’s second reading Paul appears to celebrate suffering: “we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character …” Working in the hospital, I come face to face with suffering on a daily basis; but I cannot recall ever meeting someone who was glad for the suffering. Occasionally, people talk about offering up the suffering; and sometimes I hear people quote today’s scripture passage and comment on the fact that they already have more than enough character. But that is as far ...

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To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good

In the last several years, there has been a gradual change in how countries, and even individuals, define themselves and their place in the world. Policies that promote separation and “walls” show a tendency to divide humanity by defining one another as either “them” or “us” and having one objective in mind – to keep “them” out and to protect what is “ours.”  I’m not immune to this attitude even in my own life, as I find myself more adamant about protecting “my personal space” and “me ...

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Witnessing to a matter of interest

The Gospel we hear proclaimed today, and the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, are like the conclusion of Part 1 and the beginning of Part II of Luke’s story.  We know that Luke wrote both the Gospel attributed to him and the Acts of the Apostles.  Throughout the liturgical year, the only time we hear from Acts in our Sunday liturgy is during the Easter season when it replaces the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) as the first reading.  It is the fledgling Church which ...

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Between Faith and Certainty

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

At times, I wish there was a visible sign it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, so I would know when to listen to it, and when to work at filtering out my own ego and emotional baggage. Then, with this visible sign, I would know for certain the finest ...

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I Give You a New Commandment

Easter is a time when we both remember and celebrate the new life which has come to us through our Risen Lord. Today’s readings speak to a “new life”. The word “new” appears several times today. The passage from Revelation speaks of a “new” heaven, a “new” earth and a “new” Jerusalem. Jesus in the Gospel speaks of a “new” commandment. What’s supposed to be “new”? Can you say that you have experienced a “new life” this Easter? Or have ...

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Figure It Out

My friend, Byron, wrote and successfully defended his PhD dissertation on the Apocalypse.  After he died, I was given a copy of his work, although before that, he had told me his understanding of what the Apocalypse or the Book of Revelation was all about.  There were two points that Byron made to me.  The first was that it was a message sent to particular Christian communities at a very definite time in history, a time when they had just survived a terrible persecution and were facing a new ...

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Through Death & Into Eternal Life

Central to all the beliefs we hold to as Roman Catholic Christians is that Jesus, once dead, is alive forever, and that the “new life” he offers liberates us forever from evil, sin and death. This new life, this salvation, is meant for all peoples of the earth.

This central truth is proclaimed by the Church particularly during these 50 days of Easter. Moreover, it’s meant to be proclaimed by each of us every day of the year by the way ...

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