Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 3:1-9; Luke 4:38-44)

When Jesus retreats to a deserted place, we generally conclude that he is going to pray. However, he may have other experiences than communing with his Father. As the devil tempts Jesus in a desert place in an earlier passage, in today’s gospel the people come to tempt him again.

Jesus has successfully met the people’s needs. His speaking with authority left them astonished. His casting out maddening demons and curing debilitating illnesses healed them mentally and physically. Why wouldn’t they want such a prophet to stay among them? The gospel does not mention how the people try to prevent Jesus from leaving them, but we might imagine their making offers difficult to refuse. They may tempt him with a life-tenure as rabbi of their synagogue. Or perhaps propose the hand of the beautiful daughter of the town’s richest merchant in marriage!

But Jesus knows that he is no local teacher. He has come to tell the world about the Kingdom of God, indeed to inaugurate it with words, deeds, and ultimately with his life. He is not to be deterred by temptations of beauty or security. In this gospel passage Jesus offers us an example and an assurance. Like him we must know what we are about as Christians and not allow ourselves to be led astray by temptations. Equally helpful, Jesus assures us that he has come to save us and will not be distracted from completing this mission.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 2:10b-16; Luke 4:31-37)

The Knights of Columbus fraternity has called American Catholic men together for well over a hundred years. Perhaps for that reason and the fact that its membership embraces all classes and kinds the organization is sometimes overlooked. Yet throughout the country and indeed the world, as a recent issue of its magazine demonstrates, Knights distinguish themselves by works of charity.

In the first reading today St. Paul tells the Corinthians that Christians are moved not by the spirit of the world but that of Christ. His spirit assures us that charity is not just an ephemeral human inclination but the mode of living as God’s family. We love one another and assist the needy, as the Knights of Columbus do systematically, because we have become daughters and sons of God in Christ.

Not altogether helpfully, a contemporary way of thinking democratizes God’s family. It is true that all humans are created by God and in God’s image making them in a sense His children, but real membership on God’s family consists of sharing in God’s holy Spirit of love. We see this Spirit in action when people are habitually disposed to the welfare of others and in crisis extend a hand of charity.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 2:1-5; Luke 4:16-30)

We may ask ourselves why everyone does not believe in Jesus. After all, the apostles died giving witness to his works, words, and the wonder of his resurrection. Furthermore, he preached peace, our hearts’ desire, and saints throughout the centuries have validated his message.

But even in Jesus’ own time his glory was not self-evident. Simeon, the seer in the Temple when Jesus was dedicated, predicted that he would not be accepted by all. The gospel today shows the rejection taking root as Jesus launches his project of bringing God’s care to the people. Some of his own neighbors, whom we might expect to support him at all costs, find his claims outrageously pretentious.

Perhaps a better question to ask is why we continue to believe in Jesus. Beyond the wisdom of his teachings and the valor of his story is our reason not that when we called out to him in need, we felt the strength of his presence? We believe because he has touched us with his love.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Memorial of Saint Monica

(I Corinthians 1:17-25; Matthew 25:1-13)

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he tells his disciples, “...your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” In today’s reading, which comes from his last public discourse, Jesus gives us an update. The five virgins with enough oil to keep their lamps burning brightly represent both men and women who have stocked their lives with good deeds and are now prepared to greet Christ, the universal bridegroom. Meanwhile, the five whose oil is running out are those whose lives are scant of good deeds. They will miss their heart’s desire when he comes.

Many of us would help others if asked, yet we spend little time doing it. We need to seek out opportunities. Prisoners needing visitors, hospitals needing volunteers, and night shelters needing monitors only begin to name possibilities for those who desire to fulfill Jesus’ word. Such services take time, but the deeper question is commitment. How much of ourselves are we willing to give to the Lord now so that we might be his forever?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51)

The prison chaplain was warning volunteers about doing favors for inmates. He said that they must be especially careful not to take anything from a prisoner to be mailed outside. Rather, he emphasized, they should show by the witness of their presence in the name of Christ that he suffered a kind of hell so that the prisoners as well as everyone else might not be deprived of heaven. This is the same message that Paul relates in his long letter to the Corinthians whose beginning we have in the first reading today.

One hundred years ago today Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, whom the world came to know as “Mother Teresa,” was born in the Ottoman Empire. As much as anyone in the last century she gave witness to Christ’s death on behalf of others. Recent revelations have shown that Mother Teresa’s sojourn was full of doubt as well as works of mercy. Although this fact has troubled some people, it consoles others. We now know better that the questions challenging belief do not put us outside the company of saints. Rather, faced with the will to follow Christ unreservedly, they constitute part of the death to self that leads to eternal life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

(II Thessalonians 3:6-10.16-18; Matthew 23:27-32)

Because of the statement in the first reading that “if anyone (is) unwilling to work, neither should that one eat,” St. Paul has been accused of intolerance toward the poor and disabled. However, Paul demonstrates throughout his letters and in the Acts of the Apostles a consistent solicitude for the unfortunate. Whom he shows no patience for are those who make a mockery of faith by taking advantage of the goodwill of Christians. These are the people whom we still meet going from church to church seeking handouts when they should be facing up to the challenges of life.

Today the Church remembers St. Louis of France. He was the model king of the thirteenth century, in some ways the model era of Christianity. St. Louis gave a dictum that serves us well today as we try to distinguish legitimate needs from procrastinations and deceits. “Always side with the poor rather than the rich,” he advised, “until you are certain of the truth.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle

(Revelation 21:9b-14; John 1:45-51)

As with most of the twelve disciples whom we recognize as apostles, we know little about Bartholomew. Since in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he is paired with Philip, some Biblical experts hold that he is the same as Nathanael whom the Gospel of John also associates with Philip. Nathanael, as the gospel today relates, proclaims the identity of Jesus much like Simeon at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple: the long-awaited Messiah who will accomplish the redemption of Israel.

Even though Bartholomew’s biography remains largely obscure, any one of us would trade places with him. After all, he saw and even touched salvation in person! That is, he followed Jesus first-hand, heard his voice, felt the warmth of his hand. It is taken for granted that the apostles suffered martyrdom. They could do so gladly, however, because they knew well that the one to whom they testified was worth their lives.

We cannot know Jesus as the twelve apostles did, but nevertheless he allows us access to himself. His words remain in the gospel, his flesh and blood are ingested in the Eucharist, and his Spirit is felt in the love Christians demonstrate. In faith we know that Jesus is present to us, and drawing strength from him, we like the apostles may give witness to him by dying to ourselves in service to others.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, virgin

(II Thessalonians 1:1-5.11-12; Matthew 23:13-22)

We meet Jesus today in Jerusalem. He has just thrown the money changers out of the Temple and is waiting to encounter the wrath of the religious leaders. In the meantime, he criticizes the Pharisees for their erroneous teaching.

But let us not think that Jesus was historically as irate with the Pharisees as this gospel indicates. The setting reflects the situation of the Church at the time of Matthew’s writing, some fifty years after Jesus died. By then Judaism was reforming itself after the Romans demolished the Temple. Its religious leaders, predominantly Pharisees, had to make distinctions Jews between fully-committed to the Law and synagogue attendees who put their faith in Jesus. They would persecute the latter in a way similar to the Inquisition when the Church punished false Catholics. Matthew shows how Jesus might have defended his followers if he were present in the late first century. We should listen to Jesus’ diatribe against the Pharisees as a critique of religious hypocrisy in general.

Jesus’ first charge is that Pharisees deprive people of access to the Kingdom. In other words he implies that the Jewish leaders actually prevent people from knowing God! Priests who have abused children sexually and thereby have created grave doubts not only in their victims but also in society fall under this weighty condemnation. Then Jesus criticizes the Pharisees’ proselytism which makes fanatics of religious converts. We might find a contemporary example here in a convert from Islam or Buddhism who denies that the possibility of the Holy Spirit working within the hearts of their former religious associates. We know that the Holy Spirit definitely works through the Church and its sacraments, but we cannot deny the possibility of His accomplishing salvation through other means. Finally, Jesus condemns the way Pharisees manipulate the law by drawing meaningless distinctions between gold and Temple or between gift and altar. Teachers who say that the unmarried may have sex as long as it is done “responsibly” or that one can “make up” for missing mass on Sunday by attending mass on a weekday make the same kinds of wrongful distinction as the Pharisees here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Memorial of Saint Bernard, abbot and doctor of the Church

(Ezekiel 37:1-14; Matthew 22:34-40)

At the end of the movie Titanic the sunken boat is gloriously resurfaced and reconstructed. Then the whole cast reappears to celebrate in the ship’s grand ballroom. We may consider the scene a poetic fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy in the first reading. New life is breathed into the remnants of a people and a place that were devastated out of hubris.

Christians should view the postlude of Titanic as well as today’s episode of Ezekiel as metaphors of the general resurrection of the dead. At the end of time our tombs will be vacated as our bodies come together again with the life principle (the soul) in eternity. Perhaps because it is too wonderful to contemplate, we often forget that our eternal destiny goes far beyond spiritual survival at death and thus blithely abandon the hope of bodily resurrection. Taking the doctrine to heart, we will want to care for our bodies as well as our souls.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Memorial of St. John Eudes)

(Ezekiel 36:23-28; Matthew 22:1-14)

The cause for sainthood of Fr. Stanley Rother, an American missionary to Guatemala who was assasinated in 1981, has begun in earnest. Fr. Rother refused to leave the indigenous people of the village to which he was assigned despite persistent death threats. Eventually soldiers carried out the crime. When Fr. Rother’s family wanted to take Fr. Rother’s body back to Oklahoma for burial, the people resisted claiming that he had been their priest and their protector. Finally, a settlement was reached. All of Fr. Rother’s body except his heart was returned to the United States. The Indian people, however, retained his noble and loving heart in their church.

The reading from Ezekiel today promises that all everyone’s heart will be purified like Fr. Rother’s. Ezekiel says that God will replace the stony hearts of the people of Judah with tender hearts so that the people may do homage to God and care for one another. He adds that this will be done through the gathering of the people into a new land and with the sprinkling of cleansing water.

It is confounding how Ezekiel’s prophecy might have been fulfilled despite the fact that contempt and carelessness still persist in our communities. Yet we know that Jesus has renewed our hearts in Baptism (the sprinkling) which brings us into his Church (the new land). Regrettably, however, some fail to follow him choosing, instead, self-gratification that lead us away from him and one another.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16)

Although it sounds trendy, it may help us to think of the Kingdom of God as a complex of niche markets. Where most enterprises appeal to a basic clientele, who must take or leave the product depending on their benefit or loss, the Kingdom has an assortment of attractions to accommodate almost everyone. We get a glimpse of how the system works in the gospel today. The landowner offers jobs to different workers at different hours of the day. Rather than pay each according to the work done, he gives all the same wage, which was just enough to support his family for one day. In this way no one is left in need, and no one should gripe since all received what was agreed upon in the landowner’s respective offer.

The system seems unfair since it does not compensate according to the rule, equal pay for equal work. But if we think of airline pricing, a good example of niche marketing, it may make more sense. Latecomers are charged more for the same ride because their need is more urgent. Similarly those who like lots of leg room have to pay a premium for their comfort.

It is important to remember, however, that our role is not to justify God’s ways of doing things. Rather we are to marvel at God’s mercy. Jesus offers the parable to show how God’s Providence meets everyone’s needs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 20:1-16)

The sports car wove in and out of three lanes as it moved up the highway. It easily exceeded the sixty mile per hour speed limit, perhaps reaching eighty or more. Its driver, succumbing to the same temptation as Eve in the garden, was acting as if he were a god. Defying both traffic laws and death, the driver evidently thought that the limitations which most humans are all too conscious of did not apply to him. We hear of the same kind of folly in the reading from Ezekiel today.

In that reading the prophet accuses the prince of Tyre of acting like a god. The prince has accumulated a hefty treasure perhaps without thinking to thank the Lord, much less to administer the wealth for the benefit of the needy. He shall learn the hard way, the prophet predicts, that he is vulnerable and even risible. He is not a god but a man doomed to an ignoble death.

Centuries later Jesus shows what real godly behavior looks like. He turns on end every social expectation of a god. He lords over no one. He does not even own anything. Rather he serves all, choosing to be last so that his Father, if it is his will, can make him first.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 24:15-23; Matthew 19:16-22)

The letter in the newspaper took aim at the pastor of the local church. It expressed -- so very publicly -- a complaint that the writer had regarding his relative’s funeral. The pastor refused to accommodate the wish of the writer in burying his relative according to local custom.

At times of birth and death humans cling tenaciously to traditions. They are moments when the enormity of life cuts through our lies and laziness. It becomes critical that the established order be followed to validate the deepest meaning we assign to life. For this reason the first reading today should scare acute listeners. Ezekiel demonstrates that God will effect the violation of the traditions of the people regarding the burial of their loved ones. He says, “You shall not mourn or weep.” He is indicating that outward displays of piety at death will no longer mask inner corruption. Radical reform is needed before God will allow pious burial customs to mean what they signify.

But reform comes only with great difficulty. Jesus introduces it at the cost of his life. He shows us how to live according to God’s own ways. More importantly, he dies and rises to send his Spirit freeing us from sinful tendencies.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 19:59-63; Matthew 19:3-12)

The woman is no longer young. She has never married and, no doubt, wonders if she ever will. She asks for a book on sexual ethics to guide her. She says that most of what she sees pertains to married couples or to youth who one day will marry. She infers that the Church has abandoned people in her position. Even in the gospel today Jesus does not seem to address the possibility that one may not marry because there never was a decent opportunity to do so.

The apostle Paul does take up the issue in the First Letter to the Corinthians where he says that that “it is a good thing” that the unmarried and the widowed remain as they are if they can exercise control over their passions. He reasons that the unmarried may concern themselves exclusively with pleasing the Lord where the married have various interests competing for their attention.

But Jesus is actually not far from Paul as he advises that those who can accept what he teaches about forsaking marriage for the sake of the Kingdom – much akin to “pleasing the Lord” – should do so. Furthermore, those who lack opportunity to marry may be likened to those who are made incapable of marriage by others. They need not lament over their situation but consider it carefully. They should discern, as professed celibates readily acknowledge, that being unmarried offers manifold possibilities for service, friendship, and education.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 12:1-12, Matthew 18:21-19:1)

Exile is a terrible experience. We only have to review the situations of the hostages in Darfur or of the other thirty-odd million refugees and displaced persons in the world today to see what horrors people in exile live. The foreign cultures they inhabit lack familiar institutions that might provide some solace. They have trouble finding jobs which leads to their exploitation as slave labor. They are also exceptionally vulnerable to new diseases and to swindlers’ deceptions.

In the reading from Ezekiel today God wants the prophet to show the Jerusalemites that they are headed on a course of exile. Ezekiel is to act as a person uprooted from his native place to awaken the people that their sins are bringing them to ruin. The hope is that the people will reform their lives so God might spare them the trauma of exilic life. Sadly, however, they will refuse to repent.

We see Jesus as bringing us out of the exile that sin has caused. Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden was the prototype of exile from which Jesus has rescued us. He brought us to the Kingdom of God (or “of heaven” as Matthew’s gospel consistently calls it). This state is not so much a physical place as it is a renewed relationship with God in which we experience the fullness of peace. Acquiring the relationship, we will forgive others their offenses against us, as the gospel today recommends, because we realize how gracious God has been to us.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 9:1-7.10:18-22; Matthew 18:15-20)

One moral question on which there has been a distinctive change in Catholic teaching is the freedom of conscience. Where for centuries the Church taught that it is permissible to punish members of the community who adopt foreign beliefs, she now honors the integrity of individual conscience. Freedom of conscience demands that no one be forced to declare as true what she or he does not believe. The age of the Inquisition, however inaccurately it may have been understood, is definitively past.

Still it might be pointed out that religious persecution has biblical roots. We see in the reading from Ezekiel how the Lord calls for the purification of idolaters in the time of Ezekiel. To be sure, the reading has more than a simple chastisement in mind. Rather, the Lord demands the death of those who have worshipped other gods in the Temple. Today we stand aghast at the suggestion of such practices in some societies.

Can such intolerance be justified in retrospect? Certainly something may be said that in times of less developed economies social cohesion standing on common beliefs and religious practices was critical. We can add that there is a progressive development in biblical teaching which reaches its culmination in Christ. The people came to understand God’s ways slowly and imperfectly until God sent His Son to reveal them in their fullness. Even now we continue to grapple with Jesus’ teaching and, even more challenging, how to put it into practice.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

(II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 12:2-26)

It has been noted how stories about the popular St. Lawrence have indicated a change in times. Fifty years ago, before the second Vatican Council, catechists would tell children that when St. Lawrence was being burned alive, he told his executioners when it was time to turn him over because he was already done on one side. Such morbid humor indicates a saint’s certain conviction that he is bound for glory. After Vatican II the favorite anecdote about St. Lawrence is his response to the demand of the emperor that he hand over the jewels of the Church of Rome. Upon receiving the order, Lawrence gathered together the poor of the city and brought them to the Roman prefect announcing, “These are the church’s treasures.”

The second Vatican Council has infused the Church with a sense of optimism toward the world. We no longer only yearn for a happy death but also to know, love, and serve Christ in one another. Even the poor have this aim and assist in this purpose. Obviously this pursuit of Christ in this world is not really a contemporary insight but has been with the Church since her foundation. However, we should be eager to embrace it as well as to seek eternity at our deaths.

Monday, August , 2010

Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezekiel 1:2-5.24-28c; Matthew 17:22-27)

Justice is the virtue by which we give to others their due. It is essential for harmonious social life. Love is the virtue by which we join ourselves spiritually if not physically to others. Family life would be inconceivable without it. Both virtues have natural and supernatural dimensions. Natural justice, for example, assures that we compensate properly those who work for us. Supernatural justice moves us to secure the rights of all people, whether or not we owe them anything personally. Pursuing supernatural justice, which is bestowed only through God’s grace, we merit everlasting life.

Parents, of course, love their children. Because they naturally identify their children’s welfare with their own, they make it a priority. Supernatural love moves people to identify with and to seek the good for God and others, beyond family and friends. We see supernatural love operative in the lives of the saints like Katherine Ann Drexel who spent her fortune and her life on the construction of missions for poor minorities in the United States.

The gospel today presents a negative instance of natural justice and a positive instance of supernatural love. Jesus instructs Peter that justice does not require him to pay the temple tax because he is the son of God for whom the temple was constructed. However, because supernatural love moves him not to give scandal to tax collectors, Jesus provides for the paying of the tax. In paying the tax voluntarily, Jesus demonstrates in a rather banal way that he is indeed of divine origin.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

(Daniel 7:9-10.13-14; II Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28b-36)

Ted Kennedy wrote in his memoirs of an experience he had as a youth. His father, who was a successful businessman and diplomat, told him: “You can have a serious life or a non-serious life, Teddy; I’ll still love you whichever choice you make. But if you decide to have a non-serious life, I won’t have much time for you…. There are too many children here who are doing things that are interesting for me to do much with you.” Those words settled deep in the future senator’s brain and made a great difference in his life. With good reason we opposed Ted Kennedy’s position on abortion, but we admired him for his tireless support of the uninsured and undocumented.

Jesus’ prayer in the account of the Transfiguration today reminds us of the conversation between Ted Kennedy and his father. Dialoguing with the Father, Jesus becomes aware of the violent death with the glorious outcome that awaits him in Jerusalem. He does not shrink from it. Quite the contrary, he embraces it as his conversation with Moses and Elijah indicates. The first liberated the Israelites in Egypt; the second suffered to keep the people from idolatry. Like them, Jesus will liberate humankind from slavery to sin. His suffering will strengthen the people from idolizing pleasure, power, or possessions.

Each of us if we examine our lives closely has had experiences like Jesus’. That is, like Ted Kennedy, we have had a glimpse of the possibility of knowing God intimately by living a righteous life. We know that such a life requires effort and will not be free of pain. But we also know that God, who loves us more than we can imagine, will reward our effort abundantly.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 3:31-34; Matthew 16:13-23)

It has been seven months since the earthquake in Haiti killed approximately 300,000. Pictures now appear in our newspapers showing the tent cities in which 500,000 survivors are forced to reside. With all the misery these poor people have experienced, prospects are still grim for relief soon. The rainy season is beginning in earnest possibly bringing not only discomfort but also disease.

Haiti today is like the devastated Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s time. Hope in the holy city is scant as the Babylonians have completely desecrated the Temple, killed thousands of people, and taken into captivity many other thousands as booty. “What good could possibly come of all this?” the prophet, a survivor, surely asks himself. But he does not remain in disillusion very long. He feels the Holy Spirit speaking inside him. Like a musical round that refuses to leave one’s consciousness repeating itself with words of consolation, the Spirit speaks. “I will write my law upon their hearts,” it says. The people will never stray forget God’s law again because it is indelibly engraved in them. Rather it will bring righteousness in individual lives and justice in society.

The law of which the prophet foretells and Jesus proclaims is none other than God’s Holy Spirit. Inscribed upon our hearts with Baptism, the Spirit prompts us to always do good, to avoid evil, and to love sincerely. It has a written counterpart in the Sermon on the Mount, but it is first and foremost spiritual, intractable, comforting even more than exacting.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest

(Jeremiah 31:1-7; Matthew 15:21-28)

When finishing the annual Passover meal, Jews say together, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Probably even Jews living in Jerusalem express this hope. For Jews Jerusalem is not so much a place as it is a state of mind. It is shalom, peace, under God’s protection. It is the heavenly state.

Jeremiah’s prophecy in the first reading promises that the Jews will return to their land which certainly includes Jerusalem. In the desert, as the city of Babylon must have appeared to them, they would be liberated from their sins. Then the Lord will look after their safe return. Christians take a broader view of the prophecy. For us liberation comes through Christ’s death and resurrection which does not put us in Jerusalem so much as puts Jerusalem in each of us. This takes place by Christ imparting his Spirit to us so that we might live intimately with him.

Today the Church remembers a man who lived a rather ordinary life in a truly remarkable way. St. John Vianney was a parish priest in the French village of Ars. Yet he dedicated himself to the Lord in every respect and became known for wisdom as well as piety. People came from all over the country seeking his solace. It was as if all the glory of Jerusalem beamed in his soul.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Jeremiah 30:1-2.12-15.18-22; Matthew 14:22-36)

Society yearns for a savior. Not only religious people but, on a gut level, the common person know that humans cannot achieve happiness alone. For this reason the movie “Avatar” has been such a raging success. The protagonist Jake Sully saves the inhabitants of the planet Pandora from profit-driven, ecologically-careless predators. But Jake is an erratic savior. As his surname implies, he is not perfect. After all, he has human origins and does not rise above promiscuous desire.

Of course, humanity already has a savior – a historic person who has not only conquered sin and death but has spirited us with his love. The world needs to turn to Jesus as Peter does in the gospel and not be over-charmed by fantastic imitations brandishing contemporary social values.

In the reading from Jeremiah today we hear again of the need for salvation. The prophet speaks on God’s behalf of the people’s egregious sins. They are completely incapable of repairing their fate. God, however, shows Himself as ever merciful. He will restore their peace and make them, once again, his people. We believe that God has fulfilled this prophecy in Jesus Christ. For this reason we devote ourselves to imitating his love.