In season and out of season

“Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching” – 2 Timothy 4:2


Urgent? Why be urgent if nothing serious is at stake?

The Gospel yesterday was profound. Jesus’ audience probably could not have imagined a worse “end” than being brutally and publicly executed by a pagan occupying force and your blood being used to commit such horrible sacrilege. And yet Jesus, after indicating that the Galileans who had suffered such a fate couldn’t be considered worse sinners than their countrymen, goes on to say, “I tell you, if you do not repent, you will perish as they did!” What is the implication here? All sinners are deserving of such punishment. And we are all sinners. Jesus is thus making clear that our repentance cannot be delayed. He continues this message by offering the parable of the fig tree. We often highlight God’s patience and mercy by this parable – and that makes sense especially given that the Psalm response is “The Lord is kind and merciful.” But it is striking that though the fruitless fig tree is given another year (a year of special attention and care, a last-ditch, extreme and persistent effort to save it), it will be cut down at the end of that year if it does not bear fruit. It seems that there will be a moment when the time of mercy is over, and what is left is judgment.

So, why be urgent? Because something gravely serious is at stake: the eternal salvation of people’s immortal souls. But do we even believe this any longer? Continue reading


A kiss is just a kiss?

“But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?’”  – Lk. 22:48


Considering the current “hook up” culture, it is reasonable to ask: “Does a kiss mean anything anymore?”

And yet, this is simply one example of a more fundamental divide. Do the world and the things in it have an objective meaning and purpose, or is all meaning subjectively assigned and thus relative? In other words, does anything mean… well… anything?

I have come to believe, however, that these questions ultimately lead to the Ultimate, to the question of all questions: Is there a Creator or not? For if there is a Creator who is an Intelligence, then the world is intelligible. Then things are created for a purpose, for an end, and have intrinsic meaning – for if all rational beings act for an end, then certainly the One who is Reason (Logos) and Being itself does. If there is no God, then there is no meaning. No real meaning anyway; nothing upon which you can hang your hat (or bet your life). Continue reading


You are my beloved son

The following is the reflection I gave at our son’s baptism back on October 1, 2016. I am reposting it in honor of the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

“On coming up out of the water [Jesus] saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:10-11, my brackets


Venerable Fulton Sheen was once approached by a man and asked, “Are you the Bishop Sheen who gave the mission sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral two years ago?” Sheen replied, “Yes, I am.” The man exclaimed, “That was a wonderful sermon! I enjoyed every minute of that hour and a half.” The Bishop protested, “My good man, I have never talked an hour and a half in my life!” “Well,” the man said, “it seemed that long to me.”

You will be happy to know, in mercy to the young ones and those who mind them, as well as to all of our hungry stomachs, this reflection will not be an hour and a half! Hopefully, it will not seem like it is either.

“You are my beloved son…” It is one thing to know this intellectually – as a statement of fact, as it appears in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism: “This is my beloved son…” It is quite another to know it personally – as a tender word spoken by the Father to our hearts: “You are my beloved son…” Mark’s account emphasizes this personal voice. It is Jesus who hears the voice of the Father – the voice that confirms his true identity and vocation. We can hear in these words an echo of those spoken by God to King David: “You are my son – this day I have begotten you” (Ps. 2:7). It is a personal word, a personal call, a word spoken to my heart and to yours. And today, in a special way, it is a word spoken to Crosby Fulton’s little heart. Continue reading


Consuming fire

“Our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:29


Love, Pure Love

is a Consuming Fire.

Fire consumes all that is not fire.

It devours completely,

assimilating every worthy element

and transforming it into itself.

Nothing of what was remains.

What remains is nothingness.

A transubstantiation.

Thus is Love,

consuming all that is not Love,

annihilating all lesser loves.

Some vanish as droplets before they are touched.

Some burn slowly and suffer violence,

their torture observed as through bars

until they too are digested, destroyed.

Only Love is inexorable.

Only Love endures.

The Unquenchable Fire that quenches all

and is All.


Love, obedience, and absurdity

“Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.” – John 14:21


St. Augustine preached, “Love and do what you will.” Augustine’s meaning, however, can be misunderstood. He wasn’t saying that any action done with a feeling of affection or tenderness is by virtue of that motivation ipso facto “loving.” After all, this is the same Augustine who stated, “What is not loved in its own right is not loved,” making clear that love is “disinterested” and focused solely on the true good of the one loved. In fact, one of the main points in the sermon was that certain actions that appear unloving, like a parent disciplining his or her child, actually are expressions of love. And such actions may require doing things that are displeasing to the one loved and don’t make anyone feel very good at all. Continue reading